Alexa Mareschal, a 2L, won second place in the 2014-2015 American Indian Law Review law student writing competition for a paper she wrote for Professor Robin Craig’s Ocean and Coastal Law class. The paper is entitled, “Native Title and Rights to Marine Environments: A Comparative Analysis of New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.”
In the interview below, she discusses how she became interested in marine rights, describes the role Professor Craig played in helping her to help focus the paper, and reveals why it’s important to make friends with someone “who really likes Bluebook.”
Q: As a starting place, how did you become interested in this topic?
A: The topic grew out of a nexus of interests. I have an undergraduate degree in biology from UC San Diego and have always had a particular interest in marine conservation, being so close to the ocean. When Professor Craig asked me if I would do some research on marine rights of the Maori in New Zealand over my 1L-2L summer, I jumped at the chance. I enrolled in Ocean and Coastal Law with Professor Craig in the fall and needed a paper topic for the class. I had already done the research on the Maori in New Zealand, and there had been some major legal developments in Canada regarding aboriginal rights that year. That’s when I decided to expand the project into a comparison of native rights in Canada, Alaska, and New Zealand.
Q: You wrote the paper for Professor Robin Craig’s class, Ocean and Coastal Law. Can you describe the role she played in helping you to develop and shape your paper?
A: To say that she was central to the development of this paper is an understatement. From the original research on the Maori to the final paper, she really helped me keep the scope specific enough to handle. One of my biggest challenges with this paper was not letting it turn into a treatise. There were so many possible directions for the research and so much relevant history on the development of native rights and she really helped keep it focused on a manageable sized topic. The idea to use only Alaska as a case study for the United States rather than looking at native rights in the entire country was one of her many great suggestions that made it possible for me to write this paper and keep my sanity. She also brought this writing competition to my attention.
Q: Would you encourage other students to submit their work to competitions? If so, why?
A: Absolutely! We all have to write substantial papers anyway – why not get some awards for them? I have pretty bad imposter syndrome so I thought “there’s no way my paper is going to win anything”. I was actually really surprised when I got the email saying it had gotten second place. It’s also great to have awards like this to round out my resume. It helps employers see that while I may not have the best GPA, I am pretty good at some things.
Q: How does the paper tie to your professional interests or career plans after graduation?
A: I definitely lean strongly towards environmental law in my studies and my after law school dreams. Native people and their unique rights when it comes to the precious land and resources they live on create a fascinating problem for international environmental law and conservation in general. I don’t have specific career plans but I would consider myself lucky to work on legal problems like this one on an international level.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: Make friends with someone who really likes Bluebook. With a paper like this, the citations will make you crazy. Luckily I had my roommate and fellow 2L Kyler O’Brien to help me out with those. He has basically memorized the Bluebook.
For more information on the writing competition, click here.