Dr. Priscilla Schwartz (nee Fofana) has over 20 years of invaluable experience as a lawyer, adept in public sector matters, and over 12 years of academic practice across diverse fields of law, which together reflect a career of distinguished professionalism demonstrated at the international and national spheres. She possesses exceptional experience as a practicing lawyer in public and private capacities, adept in negotiating, advising, and conducting legal research and litigation for governments and private entities especially on trade, investment, mining and sustainability regulation issues.
Dr. Schwartz served as State Counsel and Special Assistant to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, at the Law Officers’ Department, Sierra Leone and subsequently assigned to the Vice President (1996 - 2006). In these roles she developed enviable lawyering skills in government policy formulation, strategic planning, and implementation of laws, agreements and programmes of departments, parastatals, and agencies. She worked with global institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, and the UN, on intricate international negotiations and policy studies including on the rule of law and anti-corruption. She conducted the first anti-corruption prosecution that convicted a Court of Appeal Judge in Sierra Leone. Her drive for the development of the rule of law led her to present an unorthodox impassioned plea in 2001, that persuaded the President of the World Bank to reinstate the legal sector project loan commitments which faced stiff competition for closure in favour of the disarmament and reconstruction loan recovery programme. Dr. Schwartz was key in setting up the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, including co-ordinating the Security Council visit, negotiating and drafting of the statutes and agreements, and their implementation.
Immediately prior to her appointment as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr. Schwartz worked as Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Energy and Natural Resources Law (Master of Laws (LLM) Programme, at the College of Professional Services, Royal Docks School of Business and Law, University of East. London, United Kingdom (2012-2018). She has also lectured at the University of Leicester, UK, (2007-2012), Queen Mary, University of London, UK (2008-2011), School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK (2011-2013). She possesses value added multidisciplinary legal expertise as a scholar in the areas of trade, investment, energy, finance, natural resources, business, environmental and sustainable development laws, which she has applied to develop, deliver and examine courses at several institutions, and in research and knowledge exchange activities worldwide.
Dr. Schwartz has made distinctive contributions to the advancement of legal knowledge in the stated fields of law, through authorship of high quality and widely cited refereed publications, where she offers critical perspectives on the role of law and policy in growth oriented development especially affecting Africa. Notable examples of her publications include: Energy Resources Financing (2018); Capitalism, International Investment Law and the Development Conundrum (2014); Public Private Partnerships and Government Services in Least Developed Countries (2013); Trade and Development Partnerships (2010); Sustainable Energy Infrastructure: Law and Policy (2009) and Sustainable Development and Mining in Sierra Leone (2006). She has applied subject expertise in ‘Sustainability Law’ and developed e-learning courses on the Right to Development (RtD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The courses cater for representatives from Governments, the UN system, NGOs, civil society, and academia, to enhance knowledge on the implementation of the SDGs. She was nominated the Regional Project Representative for Europe to the UNOHCHR/RtD and SDGs meetings in Geneva.
She has developed several targeted innovative graduate curricula, including in Energy (LLM), and Oil and Gas (MSc), which focus on resources exploitation in Africa and the Middle East. Designed to attract minorities and build capacity in the energy sector, the programme has in just over three years, successfully produced graduates from twenty African countries, including five Sierra Leoneans.
Dr. Schwartz has earned international and domestic recognition in her field of expertise evidenced by regular invitations to participate in collaborative research projects, organise and speak at international conferences and other media outlets (e.g. the “BREXIT and UK Trade with Africa”, BBC Radio London, 2016). She sits on editorial boards and peer reviews submissions for legal monographs and textbooks.
She has demonstrated academic leadership through founding and coordinating a vast international network of legal scholars to attract public and private funding to enhance legal knowledge on economic issues in Africa - she is the Co-founder and was Chair of the African International Economic Law Network (2009-2015), hosted at the Wits University, Mandela Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Teaching excellence and mentoring skills earned her positive peer and student reviews including the “Law Society Lecturer of the Year Award 2012” (University of Leicester); and the Students Union “My Academic” nominations, in 2014 and 2016 (University of East London).
She has managed programmes and projects, including for Masters (LLM), doctoral studies (PhD), accreditation bids, research networks etc; in roles as Senior Lecturer, Programme Leader, Director, Co-ordinator and Chair, severally. She has supervised over 150 people, including students, academics, support staff, research communities and partners.
Priscilla Schwartz will speak at the World Justice Forum's Plenary Session #1: Defining the Opportunity.