8 Mar 2017

MILE Alumni Profiles: Xiaolu Zhu

My advice would be to... embrace the intense and rewarding journey that MILE has to offer.

Lawyer Xiaolu Zhu, a graduate of MILE 3, has been working in the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat since 2006 following a stint as an international legal consultant. She says the MILE programme kick-started her legal career by introducing her to the firm that would employ her upon graduation.

What is your position at the WTO and what does your work involve?

I am a Counsellor at the Appellate Body Secretariat of the WTO. My main function is to deliver substantive legal advice and assistance to Appellate Body Members and more senior lawyers in my division. My duties include to conduct or direct research on legal issues, and to prepare or guide the preparation of legal analyses and legal opinions. Occasionally, I also assist in providing advice and assistance to the Director-General, other WTO divisions, and WTO Members as appropriate. Finally, I participate in the delivery of technical assistance and training on the WTO agreements and dispute settlement practices and procedures, and make presentations at conferences and in other settings.

Can you briefly outline your career since completing the MILE in 2003?

Upon graduation in June 2003, I joined the International Trade Department of King & Spalding LLP, a US law firm, first as an intern and then as an international legal consultant. My practice focused on domestic trade regulations (especially trade remedies) and WTO dispute settlement. I left in early 2006 to join the Appellate Body Secretariat of the WTO as a Legal Officer, and later was promoted to my current position.

How important has the MILE been for your career development?

MILE was one of the first, and most important, stepping stones of my career. Before MILE, I had obtained an LLM from Georgetown University, and was familiar with international law in general. MILE took me one step further towards a career in international trade law by giving me not only a thorough knowledge of the WTO covered agreements, but also a good understanding of the economic underpinnings of international trade. In terms of the format of teaching, MILE's weekly module was challenging but highly rewarding, and the weekly assessments provided great training for my writing and analytical skills.  Moreover, it was during the MILE that I met an economic expert from King & Spalding LLP, who taught us trade remedies. He introduced me to the firm which helped kick-start my legal career after MILE.

What advice would you give to someone setting out on the MILE?

It may seem daunting at first – the long reading lists, and the unfamiliar territory (be it law or economics, depending on one's training before MILE). My advice would be to have courage and determination, and embrace the intense and rewarding journey that MILE has to offer. Doing well in class might also help you in establishing contacts with a wide array of academics and practitioners, who could prove invaluable for your career development. Also, take advantage of the unique mix of MILE students – we come from diverse backgrounds, both culturally and academically, and we can all learn a great deal from one another.