Federico Sersale di Cerisano
Federico Sersale di Cerisano LL.M. ’14 is helping rebuild Afghanistan, though his work has nothing to do with physical infrastructure. Sersale di Cerisano is part of a World Bank team working on a justice reform project in Afghanistan, which includes strengthening justice institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice, and the Attorney General's office.
Such work appeals to Sersale di Cerisano, who came to Columbia Law School to study international public law.
“Strong legal institutions have a huge impact on economic growth and sustainable development,” he says, “even though it’s not always easy to find the links.”
Growing up in Argentina, Sersale di Cerisano knew he wanted to work in the public sector. He studied law at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, earning his J.D. in 2011. In his third year, he decided to pursue international law.
Sersale di Cerisano began his career by focusing on human rights law, working for the Foundation for Human Rights in Johannesburg, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C., and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Costa Rica. But he realized he wanted to bring about change on a more fundamental level.
“I think you can have a broader impact in a field like law and development,” he says. “You can affect the well-being of people in general.”
At Columbia Law School, he took a course on Human Rights, Law, and Development with lecturer Edwin Rekosh ’88. “It was a very practical class, and it was great,” says Sersale di Cerisano. “He put very complex issues in simple ways.”
He also audited the Law & Development class taught by Professor Katharina Pistor, a renowned scholar of the global financial system. In addition, he took three courses at the School of International and Public Affairs, which he says gave him “a better perspective on policy issues.”
This fall, Sersale di Cerisano will move to Washington, D.C., to continue work on the Afghanistan project at the World Bank’s headquarters. He hopes to take on a project in Latin America at some point.
“I always had a doubt whether to study international relations or law,” he says. “Now, I’ve found the balance between international relations and law.”