ILSA HHS successfully held its second Meet-A-Teacher event with Dr Barbara Warwas, a lecturer at The Hague University and a highly accomplished academic and author.
Dr Warwas was one of the first to arrive on that cold November evening, just as the hot drinks were being laid out for guests. Flawlessly recalling present and former students’ names, she began conversing with them, asking about the progression of their studies with genuine interest and enthusiasm.
By Alexandrea Wagenaar
When the rest of the audience had arrived, she gracefully took a seat at the front of the room and commenced telling them how she came to be an esteemed academic, lecturer, coordinator of comparative law-line courses, Curriculum Committee member, and recently published author.
Whilst doing her Bachelor in national law in Poland, Dr Warwas became inspired to work internationally by an Erasmus trip to the Austrian city of Salzburg. She completed her Masters in arbitration and followed it up with a year of legal training to qualify as a legal adviser in Poland.
Thereafter, she was granted EU funding to do her PhD in Florence, as one of Poland’s high achieving students, where she would dedicate herself to research for the next four years. Dr Warwas gave a characteristically professional overview of that period, representing both the positives and negatives of embarking on such an undertaking. She explained the necessity of being dedicated to the research area and being academically-minded, speaking of the realities of the programme. Skilfully balancing the technical details and personal memories, she spoke with striking honesty.
She shared her experience of enjoying baguettes and wine by the river in Paris, making friends in Florence, and the challenges of forging her path in a tightly-knit legal field. Following her time at the academy, Dr Warwas worked at General Electric’s legal department, predominantly doing litigation. This gave her a unique practical insight and allowed her to understand the corporate perspective.
In London, she worked on a report for the European Parliament at Brunel University with a team of European scholars from all 28 Member States and Switzerland. This entailed months of social science research and reviewing a survey with 900 responses. After completing that project, she worked on arbitration cases as a visiting counsel before moving to The Netherlands, where her partner had been offered a job.
More recently, Dr Warwas got involved in a project for Helsinki University and has a second book contract, this time with Kluwer rather than Asser Press. She recalled spending exhausting, long hours writing and editing her first book, which is based on her PhD research, while also working full-time at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
Although the demanding workload and taxing deadlines were extremely challenging, her passion for the subject made it a highly rewarding process. She says that the journey was very difficult yet she always knew what she wanted to write and remained determined, utilising negative feedback as a source for reflection and continuous improvement. After completing her book and adjusting to the stress of teaching for 6 hours straight, she took her first holiday in two years.
She advised students to always remember their goals, have a strong support network in place, and always just try their best. “It’s in the sum of all the small steps”, she concluded. Dr Warwas finished by offering to answer any questions students had and listening to their feedback attentively, bringing the second Meet a Teacher session to a successful close.