Wesley Lainé graduated from the Sciences Po Law School in 2016. We caught up with him to talk about his remarkable academic and professional journey, from the beginning of his studies to what he is doing now.
From Haïti to America to Sciences Po
I was born and grew up in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. I had the opportunity to pursue my studies in the United States, and after having obtained my bachelor’s in political science and then a master’s international politics, I decided to apply to the school that I had dreamt of attending as a child: Sciences Po.
At Sciences Po, I was enrolled in the Master’s in Economic Law, specialising in Global Governance Studies. I was lucky to have met professors who pushed me towards self-learning by teaching me a vision of law as a holistic tool. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to professors Horatia Muir-Watt, Makane Mbengue and Geoffrey Samuel, who all had a strong influence on my time at Sciences Po and the person who I have become today.
During these years, I joined the HEDG programme (Human rights, Economic Development and Globalization) of the Law School Clinic and I was part of the team of the Review of Jurists of Sciences Po (FR). I came into contact with extremely diverse and interesting personalities during my time at Sciences Po. Equally important are the moments of camaraderie where I learnt how to analyse and examine the issues linked to the legal world, all the while working as a team to accomplish numerous objectives.
First Professional Experiences
Thereafter, I had the opportunity to undertake numerous internships that made an impression on me. And it was at these occasions that I realised the importance of these first professional experiences. They allowed me to both confront theory with practice and to really begin to love the legal career to which I aspired. I first went to work in the United States as legal fellow in an association that fights for the respect of civil and fundamental rights. Then, I worked in the Parisian office of an American law firm.
I also owe a lot to the law firm Clifford Chance who accompanied me during my time at Sciences Po through its scholarship for excellence, of which I was one of the lucky recipients.
Harvard Law School & Beginnings in Corporate Law
At the end of my studies at Sciences Po, I applied to Harvard Law School and was admitted. After my LL.M. at Harvard, I was invited to join the Parisian office of an American law firm as an associate, which I accepted with great pride. Today I am part of a team that accompanies financial institutions in their activities. In a constant back-and-forth of legal analysis combined with political and economic issues, I work on cases linked to corporate criminal law, financial regulation, cross-border transactions, foreign investments (regulatory M&A) and various other legal issues.
However, the years I spent at Sciences Po forged within me the conviction that I was not purely driven by a passion for a career in corporate law, but also by a desire to be politically engaged. This sense of service towards the common good makes me want to concretely change certain things. Today, I do so through my work, being heavily involved in pro bono activities, especially on cases linked to immigration.
I am also particularly involved in the politics of Haiti, where I fight for equality of opportunity in Haitian society and the well-being of the Haitian people, to whom I am unwaveringly attached. I regularly publish articles on the political issues and challenges that Haiti faces, expressing my personal vision on these affairs. I also undertake action through my foundation, Haiti Philanthropy, on projects linked to access to potable water. When the time comes, I will carry out my responsibilities.
Looking Back at Sciences Po
That being said, Sciences Po was a period of discovery for me. They were happy years, always marked by a spirit of free learning and numerous memorable encounters. When I was nominated as my class’ graduate of honour in 2016, I accepted with great joy, but also with immense gratitude towards this school that has brought me so much.
If you are at Sciences Po today, it is because you are ambitious, open-minded and because you are giving yourself the tools to succeed in the future. I advise you to choose to always be caring, considerate, cheerful and extremely generous towards your colleagues and all the others that you happen to cross paths with during your education. I wish you a lot of courage to face up to the challenges you will naturally have to confront. You will build your victories by learning from your failures. Above all, do not forget that you, and that we all, collectively, have a responsibility to the world that surrounds us.