International Win for Rhodes’ Law Student

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Rhodes University LLB soon-to-be graduate, Jason McMillan has won the prestigious international SIEL/CUP Essay Competition for 2015.  The essay competition is open to law graduates from around the world, both undergraduate and postgraduates, as well as those who have graduated within the last five years. Winners of this international competition are usually from Cambridge, Harvard and Georgetown universities.

McMillan’s Law Lecturer, Vicky Heideman, says that this achievement is significant, "Jason submitted an edited version of his LLB Research Essay to the competition, competing against LLM and PhD graduates from other, much larger international universities with more established international economic law programmes.  In this context, his achievement is extraordinary."


The winning essay was titled, "A critical analysis of the legitimate regulatory distinction test as conceived in US–Clove Cigarettes, US–Tuna II and US–COOL." McMillan knows that to those not from the legal world this title is somewhat ambiguous.

“I know that isn't very helpful for most people! It's basically an extended look at three trade disputes, centered around non-tariff barriers to international trade. It mainly focuses on a test developed by the dispute settlement bodies in these cases: what it means, how it should operate vs how it actually operates and its effect on the current international trade landscape,” he explains.

Despite its size, Rhodes University offers a world-class education, “I think Rhodes has some fantastic lecturers and is great at opening doors and providing opportunities for students to prove themselves. In this case specifically, Ms Heideman helped me discover an area of the law that really interested me, and motivated me to delve into it and try to understand it. I think the atmosphere and ethos of Rhodes lends itself to a University where every individual is able to try new things and find what they're passionate about and then to work with their lecturers or supervisors, who really want to help their students, to get the most out of that area,” states McMillan.

The prize comprised of £200 in cash, £300 in Cambridge University Press book vouchers and a three year subscription to the World Trade Review journal. Houston-McMillan also got the opportunity to submit his essay to the World Trade Review for consideration with a view to early publication.

“I never thought I'd say something like this but it was "only" 8000 words long. I had already done months of research for my research project, so in the end it probably took me about 4 or 5 days in total before I submitted it,” explains McMillan.

McMillan will be reading towards his Master's in International Trade this year. He hopes to pursue a career in international economic law.

“Unfortunately South Africa is slightly underrepresented, in some ways, in the international sphere when it comes to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), so maybe I could try to change that at a law firm here. The end goal, however, is to be working at or around the WTO in some capacity,” shares McMillan.