In July Dr Patricia Zivkovic sat down with us to talk about her current research projects, what she loves most about teaching and what her interests outside of work are.
Q: What drew you to the discipline of law?
PZ: The first thing that comes to mind is my love of intricate systems and research. I would also add my underlying need for there to be justice and fairness in the world, as well as my love of procedure. I actually wanted to study languages originally, which are another example of systems, but I got into law school first, and just forgot all about everything else. So, you could say that law was my second choice, but as it turned out it was a much better choice for me, and I never once regretted choosing this degree or looked back. This degree was very formative for my personality and brought me a lot of joy!
Q: How did you become interested in your area of research?
PZ: I have two main areas of research. The first one is International Commercial Arbitration. Before getting interested in this area, I wanted to be a criminal procedural lawyer (I think we all start there, frankly!), but in my last undergraduate year of study I took part in the Willem C Vis Moot Competition, the biggest student competition in international commercial law and arbitration, which changed everything for me. It was there that I met the great mentors and coaches who sparked my love for arbitration. What further fuelled that passion is the nature of arbitration – which is a system of justice based on private agreement which provides you with a lot more autonomy when it comes to procedures and applicable laws.
My second area of research is IT Law with a special focus on biometrics. I developed this interest while working as Head of the legal department in an IT company. As part of my role there I needed to explore the regulatory aspects of the company’s products. What sparked my interest was seeing how biometric data are collected and how systems based on that data are deployed in practice.
Q: Who do you admire in your field of research? (Could be Law more widely)
PZ: I do not have, or at least no longer have, “heroes” in my area of research, which I think comes with professional maturity. We all lose idols along the way. This is not to say, however, that I do not admire my peers and those with whom I work most closely. More specifically, I admire Dr Rossana Ducato, who works in the field of IT law and who not only inspired me when choosing the topics for my work in that field but who also mentored me on it as well. I also admire Dr Alisdair MacPherson with whom I share a love for one specific legal concept - the floating charge. And even though we overlap to some extent in our interest in commercial law, my admiration for Alisdair is actually based on his impeccable work ethic, the amount of love and dedication he puts into his research and his enthusiasm which is almost contagious. Finally, I would add Dr Euan West to my list. Of the four of us, he finished his PhD most recently and he continues to remind me of the focus I had 6 years ago, prior to my entry into corporate practice. He makes me remember what our priorities are as academics and teachers.
Q: Would you share some insights into your current research and what makes it so important?
PZ: As mentioned above, I have two main research streams, one of which is International Commercial Arbitration. This is a very dynamic field which constantly requires me to update my knowledge. My next contribution to this field will be a book on the fundamentals of dispute resolution that I am co-writing with two professors and very dear colleagues of mine, Professor Emerita Margaret Ross and Professor Derek Auchie. My contribution will be on negotiations as a dispute resolution method. I am particularly looking forward to this project as it closely relates to my other passion – psychology, and its importance at the negotiation table, for example when it comes to understanding cognitive distortions and emotional intelligence.
My next project concerning IT law will explore a very interesting issue: whether or not biometrics need to be considered part of our bodies. This change of perspective would completely reconceptualize how we look at biometrics and would hopefully lead to more control over the sharing of such data. In other words, I will explore an idea whether there is philosophically and legally speaking any difference between sharing our face measurements and sharing our non-essential organs and tissue, for example a kidney or blood. I am also exploring emotion detection and its regulation under EU law, the extent of which is far from adequate at present.
Q: What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
PZ: I have to say I most enjoy the research aspect of my role because it allows me to be creative and innovative. To be frank, it just makes me happy! The best feeling for me as an academic is to produce something mentally, which is why I entered academia in the first place. I also love brainstorming whether in the classroom or with colleagues. I love the exchange of ideas, which is why my teaching is heavily discussion based rather than lecture based. I love the moments in a class when students show me how creative they can be. I also like my admin tasks and enjoy working with the admin staff in the Law School. I feel honoured to be a part of their team!
Q: What do you love doing in your spare time?
PZ: I love spending time my with my dog-friend Paavo, whom I dog-sit a couple of days a week. He is a very energetic Border Collie who never fails to make me laugh at his shenanigans. I also love reading fantasy books, watching movies of all kinds, and spending really good quality-time with my closest friends.
Q: What 3 things would we be surprised to learn about you?
PZ: The number one surprising thing about me would be that I absolutely adore BTS! I am a 100% ARMY! Secondly, I am currently writing a fantasy novel inspired by Scottish and Croatian folk tales and witchcraft history. Finally, a major surprise to people would probably be how much I love Scottish weather – the wind, the sun, the rain, the cold, the clouds – bring it on!