Q&A with Lucy Jeffries ‘20GS, 3L at Columbia Law School

Lucy Jeffries ‘20GS on going from Columbia GS undergraduate to Columbia Law School graduate.

May 20, 2024

Lucy Jeffries ‘20GS grew up in a bicultural French and American environment, and sought a similar balance through the Dual BA with Sciences Po. In an interview conducted this spring as she was completing 3L at Columbia Law School, Jeffries shares her fondest Dual BA memories, and the unique benefits of being part of the Columbia community as both an undergraduate and graduate student.

Major: Political science

Sciences Po campus: Reims

What is your GS story?

I am half French and half American. I grew up in DC, but very much surrounded by the French community of the French International Lycée. This duality meant a lot to me and leaving high school, I was not fully ready to give up living in a meshed bilingual environment. I also didn’t know if long term I’d prefer to live in the US or in France. The Dual BA provided me with the perfect opportunity to get the best of both worlds. It enabled me not to compromise on either experience, and continue my education in an international environment. 

What were some highlights of your Dual BA experience?

Needless to say the galas in Reims were a unique and magical experience—an excuse to dress up and enjoy access to incredible spaces. Beyond this obvious answer, my favorite moments were those that helped build community. At Sciences Po, I was on the women’s soccer team and we played at the “week-ends inter-campus” (WEICs). These were incredible opportunities to build a sense of solidarity with those from your campus and meet other Sciences Po students. 

For similar reasons, I also loved the opportunity at Columbia to travel with the Amnesty International student group to the organization's general body meetings in Boston and Chicago. These trips solidified strong friendships and enabled us to exchange with human rights activists from across the region. Finally, I really relished the ability to take really interesting classes on niche topics, such as Urban Spaces of Conflict with Columbia  Professor Khatchig Mouradian, or Middle Eastern Cinema with Sciences Po Professor Diana Gonzalez-Duclert.

What drew you to law and to your current law program? & what specific interests or goals do you have within the law field?

After graduating from the Dual BA, I worked at an NGO called the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and realized that law provided the possibility for creative solutions needed to overcome current obstacles to accountability for war crimes. I also knew that I wanted to work in a field that provided an international experience, and law does just that—whether by using international law, working with international clients, or contributing to cases that touch upon geopolitical realities and current events. These are the key reasons for my interests in both international trade law, and international human rights and asylum law. 

What is it like being part of the Columbia community as both a GS student/alumna and now a Law School student? 

I feel lucky in the sense that both programs are quite small, so it’s easy to feel comfortable, make friends, and create community. Much like the GS lounge, Jerome Greene Hall (JG) is a small space where you know that you will always run into someone just by hanging out in the halls. The student bodies in both programs offer a unique diversity of experiences, and exchanging with others is an integral part of the learning environment. 

How did the Dual BA and GS’s nontraditional educational opportunities prepare you for or inform your law pursuits? 

Being surrounded by students with so many different backgrounds and interests truly helps in two important respects. First, having been exposed to so many unique students in GS who have inspiring experiences beyond academia allows you to take a step back from law school and remember that there is more than just studying. Additionally, remembering that people come from different paths and backgrounds helps promote empathy and understanding. To me, this has been central to a part of my client-facing work with Columbia Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, where empathetic-lawyering (a holistic approach to law that considers the client as a person first and foremost) is key. 

What advice would you have for current GS students, especially fellow Dual BA students, who are interested in law school? 

Have a strong idea of why you want to go to law school when applying and make sure to pick a school that is a good fit for that purpose (i.e. clinics, classes, externships). That being said, keep your mind open to new opportunities and practice areas because you never know what you might end up loving!