Report by Dominika Leitane, recipient of the 2022 Peter Duffy scholarship to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)
From the first moments of my traineeship, I felt welcomed, included, and valued as a member of the team. As a Peter Duffy scholar, I worked at the Registry of the Court, which meant processing applications against the United Kingdom and analysing them for admissibility, followed by production of case notes for use by senior lawyers and judges. The UK team is small, but extremely friendly and welcoming. My supervisor made sure I was allocated a desk that was close to the rest of the team, to enable us to cooperate easily and to spare me the effort of dragging large case files around, which was very much appreciated (the lovely canal view from my window was an added bonus). The team made sure to verify what my main interests were, and made an effort to give me the kind of work I particularly wanted to experience, whilst also enabling me to complete a wide variety of tasks to get the flavour of the diversity of work that happens at the Court. The insights I gained during my placement were not limited to learning in-depth about the Court’s jurisprudence and how it functions – they extended to valuable transferable skills, such as brief-making, legal research and case analysis, which I will get to apply throughout the rest of my legal career.
I was fortunate enough to complete the placement from October to December, which meant that I caught the last few days of the summer and saw Strasbourg in the sun, as well as getting to experience its lovely autumn colours and unmatched Christmas spirit. In addition, I commenced my placement at the same time as some other (non-Lincoln’s Inn) trainees: the completely unexpected outcome of this experience was that I managed to build friendships that I’m sure will last for many years to come. It was a pleasure to discover the work of the Court, the Council of Europe, Strasbourg and its surroundings with like-minded people who were not only similarly passionate about human rights, but also brilliant and inspiring, coming from all over Europe and beyond.
Living in Alsace in itself deserves a separate paragraph: due to its location on the border of France and Germany, the possibilities for day trips and weekend getaways are truly endless. I got to explore the Black Forest, the Champagne region of France, small towns such as Colmar and Obernai, and even managed to get cheap train tickets to Paris one weekend.
To sum up, I cannot over emphasise how transformative and genuinely fun this experience was, and I cannot thank Lincoln’s Inn enough for giving me this opportunity. Working at the European Court of Human Rights had been a dream of mine since I first decided to become a lawyer, so I had immense expectations coming into the traineeship, yet it somehow exceeded all of them. I definitely recommend applying for a European scholarship to anyone seeking a career in public law and human rights.