Students Pursuing International Public Interest Work

Approximately two dozen Washington University Law students are interning overseas with legal aid agencies, public interest law offices, and international organizations this summer.

Since the inception in 2002 of the Africa Public Interest Law & Conflict Resolution Initiative, more than 60 law students have spent their summers providing legal services to low-income individuals in South Africa and Ghana. The Initiative, led by Professors Karen Tokarz and Kim Norwood, is designed to foster study, travel, and research in Africa.

In summer 2008, eight law students are working in South Africa. Katie Cox, Anna Dray-Siegel, Mike Foley, Lindsey Goldstein, and Laura Najemy are interning for 10 weeks at the Legal Aid Board in Durban, South Africa, where Washington University students have worked the past six summers. The legal aid board provides free legal assistance on civil and criminal matters to indigent South Africans. The students are engaged in client interviewing and counseling, legal research and writing, trial preparation, and appellate brief writing.

Law students Andrea Freiberger and Melissa Linn are interning for 10 weeks with the Black Sash in Durban, and Tom Burgess is working with Black Sash in Cape Town. These students are engaged in client intake, assisting with research, acting as a liaison with service providers, monitoring parliament, observing the implementation of government programs, providing administrative assistance to paralegals, and providing community legal education.

Additionally, six Washington University Law students are interning in Ghana this summer. Brooke Curtis, Andrew Donelan, Chris Lee, Sarah Placzek, Reagan Larkin, and Anne Siarnacki are working with the Legal Resource Centre in Accra, Ghana. The Legal Resource Centre works with communities to ensure human rights, social progress, and economic development, especially in the areas of civil liberties, health, employment, education, and housing. These students are involved in client counseling, client advocacy, community education, and dispute resolution. 

Four Washington University Law students are interning in Cambodia. Matthew A Thurman, Rod M Sanjabi, and Allen H Injijian are working with Bridges Across Borders, “an international, non-governmental organization formed to address the root causes of violence and hatred in the world.” The organization is a collaboration of activists, artists, students, educators, and other volunteers.

The Becker Fellowship program, which provides support for students working in the public interest in the United States and abroad, is sponsoring three students’ work during the summer. Andrew Lucas is interning with the International Prosecutor’s office of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Cambodian Courts, the tribunal charged with prosecuting crimes committed during that country’s Khmer Rouge era. Lucas is the law school’s second intern at the Chambers, following in Lilia Tyrrell, who worked in Cambodia during the spring semester.

In addition, Becker Fellows Brittany Davis and Debora Rogo are in Geneva, Switzerland, working for the World Health Organization and the International Organization for Migration, respectively.

Two students are also studying and working abroad through the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute’s Dagen-Legomsky Fellowship program. Thomas Burgess received the Dagen-Legomsky International Public Interest Fellowship to support his work with Black Sash  in Cape Town. Erika Detjen received the Dagen-Legomsky Hague Fellowship to attend the Hague Academy for International Law in The Netherlands.

Three students, Sarah M Coleman, Erica M Jones, and Katie McInerney, are interning in Nepal. The three are working with Professor C.J. Larkin, conducting alternative dispute resolution training at the community level, as part of a U.S. Department of State-sponsored program that also brings Nepalese community leaders to St. Louis each year.

Most students received primary funding through the school’s Summer Public Interest Stipend Program. Several also were awarded travel stipends from the Office of International Programs and the Gephardt Institute for Public Service.