“I think it is so important to speak multiple languages,” reflects attorney Caroline Edsall ’02, who earned her master’s degree in French and European law (LL.M) from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. “Something that has fascinated me is how one word in one language can be so loaded with meaning, but in another language, there can be no single word encompassing the same ideas. Only by knowing both languages can you fully express yourself and fully understand the cultures behind the languages.” In addition to French, Caroline can speak fluent Spanish and read Italian.
French is often referred to as the language of international law—and Caroline knows it well. “Many international legal decisions and international arbitral awards are in French, and many treaties are in French, too,” says Caroline, who is an associate at a local D.C. law firm. “In my daily work, I often find myself needing to consult such a treaty or award, and I am consistently grateful that I know the language and can understand those sources.” Caroline notes that in her career—whether dealing with international or U.S. law—words are everything. “Writing is probably the most important thing that I do. Whether I’m sending short emails to my clients on a daily basis or drafting a 100-page submission to a court or tribunal, it is so important to be able to communicate clearly, succinctly and effectively in my profession,” she said.
Her love and understanding of the French language began as a Lower School Saint. “The foreign language program at SSSAS is excellent,” Caroline said. “I am confident that—to the extent that my French accent is good (and I do not sound too obviously like an American when I speak the language)—it is because I started my study of French when I was 8 years old with Madame [Laura] Walker.” Caroline also shared that she will be “forever grateful” to Monsieur Michael Brinkmeyer for encouraging her to attend the Virginia Governor’s School for French, and she reflects on the Normandy exchange program as an “unforgettable” and “invaluable” experience.
Caroline has practiced law for five years. For the first three years of her career, she served as a law clerk to three different judges—including Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to her LL.M, she received her law degree and bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University. She was a “lifer” at SSSAS, and her family includes a long line of Saints: her father, Jack ’64; sister and former faculty member Allison ’85; and brothers Carter ’91 and Robert ’06. Caroline recently recited two of the most important (and exciting!) words of her life when she said, “I do” to her husband, Judd Littleton, on May 7, 2016.