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Law, Arts and Culture

Portrait Features

Portraits of a Global Law School was launched in the summer of 2015. The project involved interviewing over 50 students, staff and alumni, presenting their portraits alongside short features describing each person’s life, work and connection to The Dickson Poon School of Law.  The project will return for another round of photo shoots, but until then we will be presenting a series of articles and photographs focusing on visiting alumni and the School in more depth.

(Portraits of a Global Law School Features Photographer: Eileen Perrier)

David D Caron

David-CaronDavid D Caron

United States of America

Professor 2013 – Present (Dean 2013-2016)

Judge, Iran – United States Claims Tribunal 2015 - Present

Professor David Caron joined King’s as Dean of the School in 2013. He has enjoyed a diverse and rewarding career that has taken him from the US Coast Guard Academy to the University of California at Berkeley with a range of experience working in the US and Europe. Since coming to London, Professor Caron has presided over a period where the School has consolidated its focus on transnational law, grown as an institution with a truly global community, and welcomed students and academics from all over the world.

When asked about Portraits, Professor Caron explained how he was impressed by the participants’ generosity and the collective sense of community it articulates: “When I looked at the project I was struck by how much all these people share. We are born into very different worlds, different conditions, yet we experience similar impulses and possess similar aspirations.”

For Professor Caron, these aspirations reflect the fact that we all confront the same human condition, and are all born into the same point of world history. Although our view of that world may start very differently, our shared aspiration to understand its complexities can lead us to value each other’s perspectives . The sense that there is something vital at stake in negotiating this complexity has remained with Professor Caron since his childhood in Connecticut. As a nine-year-old boy faced with the stark reality of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Professor Caron has clear memories of this profound historical moment: Standing on his parents’ driveway, thinking about the ominous news, he clearly remembers not being able to reckon with the prospect of such a devastating conflict ever being entertained by world leaders.

This confrontation with the world’s geopolitical complexity led to Professor Caron seeking a resolution through his studies. At first he chose to undertake a degree in physics because of “a desire to understand and put order on the world,” but this interest soon shifted to a focus on politics and law in his search for insight into how “meaning among people is constructed.”  Many years later, his career led him to assume the Deanship at King’s and a recent appointment on the Iran – United States Claims Tribunal as its reaches what are arguably its most significant cases.

The monumental shifts in global politics and history over the last few decades have served as the backdrop to Professor Caron’s career and as such, this interest in complexity and the potential incoherence of the world’s diversity has only become more multi-faceted. This has challenged Professor Caron’s sense of progress and its perception: “The combination of technology and the false peace of the Cold War allowed one to have a sense that norms could converge and that order could be built” he explains, “I think the values of the world over the last two decades have shown themselves to be diverse and universal simultaneously. That fact makes the project of finding the real consensus we have as human beings all the more important.”

As such, the School’s diversity and focus on a transnational approach to law hold a crucial sense of importance for Professor Caron. “The reality is that the world is both local and global simultaneously,” he said, hailing Portraits for a Global Law School for its encouragement of “the tolerance that allows us to appreciate our difference.”

Patrick Robinson

Patrick Robinson Patrick Robinson


LLM 1972

Judge at the International Court of Justice in the Hague

In 1970, Patrick enrolled in the Hague Academy of International Law, where he attended lectures by Sir Francis Vallat on the Law of Treaties.  Sir Francis was, at that time, the Director of International Studies at King’s. Patrick remembers his meeting with Sir Francis as a foundational moment in his career. It was this meeting that encouraged him to focus his studies on international law, which would become the focal point of his career.

Before his semester at The Hague, Patrick had been working in Jamaica’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, where he prosecuted the country’s first extradition case. This experience provided a fascinating introduction to one aspect of international law.  The profound changes occurring in Jamaica at that time also contributed to his interest in the discipline. Jamaica gained independence in 1962, generating a need for new international partnerships and treaties. The negotiation and adoption of the 1969 Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties proved an important backdrop for the negotiation of agreements brought about by Jamaica’s newfound autonomy.

These developments provided the context for Patrick’s studies in The Hague. Sir Francis’ enthusiasm and experience reinforced his decision to focus upon, what was then, an emerging field of international law.  Patrick credits his former professor with being able to command respect with his vast knowledge. It was on Sir Francis’ recommendation that he applied to study for an LLM in International Law at King’s.  

After completing his LLM, Patrick returned to Jamaica to work in the Attorney General’s Department, where his expertise in international law proved invaluable.  This was the starting point of an active and successful career as an international lawyer that saw him appointed as a member, and then President, of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1988 and 1991, respectively; as a member of the International Law Commission in 1991; and, as a Judge (from 1998), and President (from 2008), of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where he presided over the trial of Slobodan Milošević.   

In 2015, Patrick was appointed as a Judge of the International Court of Justice.  That same year he also returned to King’s, where he took part in a special interview with Professor David Caron, then Dean of The School.  During the interview, Patrick spoke broadly about his career and his thoughts on international law, including the Law of Treaties. You can watch the interview in full on our YouTube channel.

Barbara Fontaine

Barbara FontaineSenior Master Barbara Fontaine

LLB 1972-75

Senior Master and Queen’s Remembrancer

In 2003 Barbara Fontaine was appointed as a Master of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice and since 2014 she has had the dual role of Senior Master and Queen’s Remembrancer.  The latter role dates back to 1164. She also has the major distinction of being the first woman and first solicitor to ever be appointed as a Senior Master.

Senior Master Fontaine describes her current position as being a mix of judicial, statutory, managerial and ceremonial roles. Her judicial role focuses on a broad field of civil work, dealing with both the interim and occasionally the trial stages of High Court claims in the areas of contract and tort. This can mean working on everything from personal injury and industrial disease disputes to defamation, business and human rights cases.

It is precisely this kind of variety that first attracted Senior Master Fontaine to studying the law. Before arriving at King’s in 1972 she admits to not having much knowledge of what to expect: “I’m not sure there is even any history of anyone at my school applying to do law,” she explains with regards to her interest, “I’m not entirely sure where it came from, but there’s such a diversity of subjects in the law that there’s always something to be interested in.”

It was in tutorials lead by Professors Robin Morse and Tony Guest that this interest really began to develop: “It was the human story underlying even something like contract law, there’s always people and a dispute underneath which is entertaining. You get a sense of the personalities who are involved.”

Senior Master Fontaine’s insight into the law’s fundamental complexity has served her well on the Queen’s Bench. The role involves ceremonies that are steeped in the traditions and history of English law. Whether she’s presiding as Queen’s Remembrancer over the ‘Trial of the Pyx’ –designed to verify new coinage which dates back to the 13th century but is now carried out by modern technological methods – or the nomination of High Sheriffs, these responsibilities have demonstrated the historical roots of English law and how it relates directly, to the function of tradition in society.

In contrast to the well-established traditions involved in her role, Senior Master Fontaine’s career has also been marked by a profound shift in cultural and institutional attitudes. Her appointment as the first female Senior Master is the latest in a long line of such changes that have shaped her professional life. She became the first female solicitor at Hill Dickinson’s London office in 1978 and the only non-Chinese female solicitor at Baker & Mackenzie while working at their Hong Kong office. In 1991 she was also the only female equity partner of the Baker & Mackenzie global firm appointed in that year.

When asked about the inevitable challenges she faced, Senior Master Fontaine explains that she simply considers herself fortunate to avoid ever being held back because of her gender. During the early 1970s many law schools admitted only a small number of female students. By that point though, a third of King’s law students were women. However, it’s the broader sense of unity in collegiate life Senior Master Fontaine remembers from her time at the School. “Our faculty was quite a close-knit group,” she explains, “I think King’s has always managed to foster a sense of community.” 

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