News Archive

Berkeley Alumni Team Receives International Debate Silver Medal

By Andrew Cohen

A four-person UC Berkeley alumni team, two of whom graduated from Berkeley Law, recently won the silver medal at the American Universities Debating Tournament in Paris. Held inside the Grand Palais, the competition featured teams from alumni clubs of universities across the United States.

Kerstin Carlson ’01 had a particularly memorable event. First, she won the best speaker award in the quarterfinal round, when Berkeley Law defeated a team from American University. Two nights later during the finals, she was again named best speaker—and soon after delivered her second child, a daughter named Noemie Niamh.

“Kerstin left the tournament around 10:30 pm and delivered her baby at 11,” said Nicolas Tollet ’05, Founding President of the Berkeley Club of France. “She and the entire team displayed impressive debating talents from the very beginning of the tournament.”

Carlson will soon receive a Ph.D. from Berkeley Law’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. She practices international arbitration at Cleary Gottlieb in Paris, and is widely published in the area of public international law. A Fulbright Fellow to Croatia in 2004–2005, Carlson received a second Fulbright the next year to work in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Freedom of Expression Division.

In the debate’s semifinal round, when Berkeley Law prevailed against Stanford, team member Olivier Jeannel received best speaker honors. Jeannel, who is deaf, used lip-reading, hearing aids, and live captioning throughout the competition.

Joining Carlson and Jeannel on the Berkeley team were Laura Lati and 2001 Berkeley Law graduate Charles Newcombe, who launched UC Berkeley’s alumni club in Russia when he lived there in 2008–2009. Newcombe has worked extensively with international organizations in mass claims processes, both within the U.N. Compensation Commission and Claims Resolution Tribunal.

An accomplished and diverse group of professionals served as judges for the debate tournament. The roster included Judith Baroody, Minister Counselor of Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy; Jacques Mistral, Head of Economic Research at the French Institute of International Relations; Declan McCavana, President of the French Debating Association; Christopher Dickey, Bureau Chief at Newsweek; and Alessandra Galloni, Europe Editor-in-Chief of the Wall Street Journal.