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School of Law

Pablo Elias Sobarzo, Student Rep for Energy and Natural Resources Law LLM (2020)

"All of my lecturers until now have been exceptional. Every single one of them either is or was an active practitioner..."

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Programme: Energy and Natural Resources Law LLM
Year: 2020
Country: Chile

Tell us a bit about yourself - what did you do before starting the course?

My career until now has been somewhat unconventional. I studied at the Universidad de Chile and spent a few years as a research assistant at their International Relations Research Programme. I then got admitted into practice and worked in a Law firm in Santiago – Magliona Abogados – for a year. Afterwards, I began a master’s degree offered by the University of Heidelberg in International Law. I graduated with distinction.

I returned to Chile for a few months, working as the Legal Adviser in a small company. I moved then to France – my partner was finishing her studies there – while retaining my role. I worked in some non-legal positions to improve my French while applying to continue my studies at Queen Mary.

What made you choose to study LLM in Energy Law at CCLS?

It began as an academic pursuit. After finishing a first LLM course in International Law at the University of Heidelberg, I was keen on complementing it with sector-specific education. Besides – Chile is undergoing a huge energy transition phase! The growth of renewable energy sources there has been impressive. So, it felt very topical.

Queen Mary is one the few top universities in Europe running a dedicated Energy and Natural Resources Law programme; and the only one in London. The City is a huge plus itself. Networking and professional opportunities, academia, social life, there is everything.

The modules’ distribution has been quite sensible. In the first semester, I chose some foundational modules that allowed me to understand the basics of the sector: Energy Law Principles, International and Comparative Petroleum Law and Contracts, and Energy Economics.

Now, I’m focusing on some specific areas. Climate Change and Energy, Mining and Natural Resources Law and Renewable Energy Law. I’m also doing the International Arbitration and Energy Module to complement the knowledge I got from my previous LLM.

How is the course meeting your expectations, have you learnt/come across something unexpected or surprising?

All of my lecturers until now have been exceptional. Every single one of them either is or was an active practitioner, which means you get not only the theory but also strong practical insight on how the market works.

Rather than focusing on a module alone – it would be unfair to the excellent lecturers I’ve had – I was surprised to see how well acquainted with both the legal and economic dynamics of the market I became. The programme has also allowed me to look into real case studies other Latin America and Europe – Africa, Middle East, Asia.

It might sound fairly obvious, but the extent to which Climate Change and ESR commitments are altering the shape of the industry and raising and diversifying the standards to which states and companies are held accountable is impressive. A lot of these new challenges mean adopting improved compliance and transparency mechanisms, accepting soft law as part of the industry’s benchmarks, and also understanding that the law can do so much: the role of lawyers is indeed changing too.

What has been your favourite moment(s) or topic so far?

Being chosen as the Student Representative has been an incredible opportunity to get to know my classmates, the lecturers and other professionals more. It has been a really enjoyable experience. Everyone at Queen Mary has been really insistent on making the most of this year, not only in terms of raw academics, but also the people you can get to know – colleagues, mentors, friends.

The Energy Economics Course was a highlight. We went through the economic issues arising from the energy transition, such as the “Duck Curve”; challenges in project finance from both financial institutions’ and legal counsel point of view; and even had the time to look at how technology is impacting the sector. Our Lecturer, Tedd Moya Mose, was extremely clear and dynamic.

What are you planning to do after you complete your studies?

Originally, I thought of pursuing a PhD degree, hopefully here in the United Kingdom. However, Energy, Power, Oil & Gas, Mining are such interesting areas of practice that I would be thrilled to go back to professional practice with this newly acquired knowledge.

How do you think the subjects studied will help in your work?

The knowledge of a particular market – understanding its dynamics, the requirements for the legal professionals, the particularities in its contracts, regulation, and even dispute resolution are a great way of standing out among other applicants.

Would you be willing to share your Testimonial? If so, you could help a prospective student to make an informed choice to study at Queen Mary. (Class of 2020 and 2021 only).