Nov. 15, 2019 — Ivana Mariles, a third-year student at the University of Houston Law Center, will spend her Spring 2020 semester working with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
“It’s so exciting to know that the Law Center has prepared me for an internship like this,” Mariles said. “It’s really rewarding because it is an affirmation of everything I have completed up until now.”
The institute, established in 1966 to promote international investment, serves as a platform for investor-state dispute settlements and strives to bring awareness to international foreign relations law.
“The opportunity to be in D.C. and work with the center is something that I think is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “I’m excited to go and do the best I can.”
Interning with ICSID intrigued Mariles because she admires the trust investors and states have in the organization, which allows international investments to happen and encourages social and economic advancement.
“ICSID is probably the most important institution when it comes to investor-state arbitrations,” Mariles said. “It’s such a unique institution and I really want to learn from its success and contribute to its mission because I think there’s not really anything out there like it functioning as well and at such a grand scale.”
Every case that ICSID takes is assigned to one of four case management teams, each one handling matters in different languages. Mariles, who is bilingual, expects she will be placed in either the English or Spanish group.
“I’m there to help these arbitrations move along as smoothly as possible,” she said. “I’ll be doing research for issues that come up in these proceedings; I will attend hearings, take notes of everything that’s going on for the record and I’ll help the parties in these disputes sort out any logistical aspects of their proceeding.
“Everything so that they feel they are getting the fairest opportunity to resolve this issue.”
International arbitration fascinates Mariles because of the positive impact it can have and range of issues it is able to solve, such as preventing war, stimulating economies in developing countries, and solving commercial disputes between companies.
“Everything is such high stakes, yet I would say it’s probably one of the more personalized and peaceful ways to resolve a dispute,” she said. “What interests me about it is the potential that you have as an individual to use this tool to go out and effect really great change in the world one dispute at a time.”
Mariles took Transnational Investment Law and Arbitration with Research Assistant Professor Julian Cardenas Garcia in fall 2018, then immediately joined the Investment Arbitration Team, which reached semi-finals at the Investment Arbitration Competition this past April in Bogotá, Colombia.
“The cool thing about the team honestly is that you’re learning about all these things in the classroom, and on the team you actually get to go out and do all the things you’re learning about — you’re getting to put it into practice,” she said. “For me it was like an ‘oh yes’ moment. This is what I want to do.”
While at the Law Center, Mariles has enjoyed a range of classes and connected with many professors, but she has found a teacher and mentor in Cardenas, whose Transnational Investment Law and Arbitration course introduced her to ICSID and laid the foundation for the arbitration experiences she has had.
“All of my professors have been important, but honestly, I am most grateful for Professor Cardenas,” she said. “He has made every effort to make sure I’m doing everything that’s needed to pursue a career in international arbitration.”
Mariles credits Cardenas for teaching her that networking is invaluable to law students and lawyers alike.
“You have to be prepared in every single instance that you are going to be representing yourself as a lawyer or a future lawyer,” she said. “But really the most important thing is that you have a strong network of friends, colleagues and mentors around you, because if you have that, you have the resources that you need to succeed.”