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February 2008: International Law
Good news! I got the internship at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SC-SL). It is such a relief to know that I am doing something so exciting and meaningful this summer. Obviously, I am also glad that I don't have to continue searching for alternative jobs. Finding an internship early keeps off the pressure throughout the semester. In addition, I won't be going alone. A fellow 1L is going to Freetown with me. Although we work at different Chambers (I am going to be working at the Trial Chamber), it is great to share this experience with someone. I have been to Egypt, but that is the only country in Africa I have been to. Going to Sierra Leone will be a once in a life time experience.
The war crime tribunals are known to take a long time to give notice on whether or not you receive the internship, but our professors have been great keeping us informed of any news as soon as it happens. They have sent follow-up emails to the individual tribunals, and I have them to thank for finding out about the internship so early. Even on sabbatical, Professor Westerman has been checking her emails regularly and has answered many of my questions. It is great to know that the professors at Pace genuinely care about their students and are there whenever we need them.
The Human Rights in Action (HRIA) program is a great way to gain some international experience for anyone who is interest in international human rights and international criminal law. You work at a UN war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, or the Netherlands, during the summer where you get to experience the work firsthand. I learned about the program when I first came and visited Pace Law. I made an effort to talk to several of the professors and actually met Professor Westerman, the director of the International Law department. When I came to Pace, I found out that she was my contracts professor and continued to keep in touch with her outside of class. She told me about all the great externships and about the HRIA internship program. At first, I was torn between an externship in Germany, my home country, and the HRIA program. However, I quickly found out that I am more interested in human rights than commercial arbitration.
The interest in International Law has grown at Pace. Even abroad, Pace is known and at the war crimes tribunals, Pace students are even known as the Pace nominees. Obviously, most students are still at Pace for the Environmental Law program, but I think the international community has grown and with it the interest in International Law has also grown. I know several of my friends are interested in both Environmental and International Law. They have been looking at internships and externships abroad that combine both areas of law. It is difficult to find a job that pays after your first year of law school, so it is even more important to find something you are interested in that will allow you to accomplish something meaningful. I know I am excited about this summer and all the adventures that I will experience.