New Law School Organization Explores Economy and Politics of Arab World

Lexington, VA Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fadil Bayyari '11L at the Ibn Rushd Moot Court Competition
Add one more organization to the expansive list of student-run groups at Washington and Lee School of Law.  The Middle East and North Africa Law Society (MENA) will bring together students, alumni, faculty, and professionals dedicated to surveying and analyzing the economic, legal, political, and cultural issues of the Middle East and North Africa.

Organization founder and president Fadil Bayyari '11L hopes the group will serve as a nexus for law students interested in the Arab world and the many areas of the law at play in the region, including international finance law, international human rights law, conflicts law, energy law, and U.S. intelligence law. The organization currently has sixty members including student officers Daniel Goldman (Vice President), Simon Herr (Treasurer), Mario Urizar and Jeremy Holt (Public Relations), and William Peacock (Secretary).

"There really isn't a professional organization like this at any Virginia law school," says Bayyari. "Hopefully, over the coming years as we expose the student body to the issues of the region we will be able to develop a network of alumni to increase opportunities for students interested in working in the Middle East."

Bayyari, who landed a highly competitive legal associate position with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) this past summer, is already doing a good job of representing W&L and the new organization.  This summer he was named Best Oralist at the Second Annual Ibn Rushd Moot Court Competition, held at ADC National Headquarters and Heritage Center in Washington, DC. The competition addressed the First Amendment and the level of constitutional protections afforded a Muslim woman wearing the Hijab, the religious veil of modesty, in a court of law.

Bayyari credits the late Louise Halper, a W&L law professor  he met prior to attending law school, for inspiring him and supporting the creation of the organization. Halper's research and scholarship focused on law and gender in the Middle East, and she spent part of one sabbatical in Iran and served as a Fulbright Fellow and visiting scholar in Turkey.

International law scholars Mark Drumbl and Susan Franck serve as the group's faculty advisors. Franck, who is a leading expert in international economic law and dispute resolution, notes that the new group presents an opportunity to build bridges across different regional, cultural and historical perspectives.

"The creation of a law student group focusing specifically on MENA can provide W&L students with a unique perspective and tap into the critical regional value today," says Franck. "It also means that we have a student organization here on campus that directly parallels the focus that the World Bank has given to the region in light of the pivotal role that MENA can and does play in larger international dynamics related to globalization."

For more information on upcoming events or to learn more about MENA, contact Fadil Bayyari at

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