Students Pursuing International Public Interest Work
Approximately 30 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 80 law students have spent their summers providing legal services to low-income individuals and grass-roots organizations in South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya. The initiative, led by Professors Karen Tokarz and Kim Norwood, is designed to foster study, research, and professional experiences in Africa.
In summer 2009, six law students are interning for 10 weeks in South Africa. Kathryn Minton, Ashley Price, Rupa Rajagopalan, Ashley Spooner, Joseph Whitfield, and Micah Zeller are working at the Legal Aid Board and at Lawyers for Human Rights in Durban, South Africa. The Legal Aid Board provides free legal assistance on civil and criminal matters to indigent individuals in South Africa. Lawyers for Human Rights provides free legal services to refugees and immigrants. The students are engaged in client interviewing and counseling, community education, negotiation and dispute resolution with agencies, legal research and writing, trial preparation, and appellate brief writing.
Additionally, four Washington University Law students are interning in Ghana this summer. Amy Delfyett, Tiffany Ellis, Jing Geng, and David Myrie 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.
Six Washington University students currently are interning in Nairobi, Kenya. Patrick Busch, Marguerite Dillworth, Eric Finch, Margaret LeBlanc, Oyinlola Oguntebi, and Rebecca Thibault are working for several non-profit organizations in Kenya, including the Kasarani Youth Congress, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Kenya), and Watoto Wenye Haki.
Michelle Penn and Alison Yewdell are interning with the Office of Civil Parties of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh. The ECCC is the tribunal charged with prosecuting crimes committed during that country’s Khmer Rouge era. Penn and Yewdell are the law school’s fourth and fifth intern at the chambers. Mei Qui and Tina (Jing) Yang are interning at the Beijing Children's Legal Aid Center working on migrant worker and children's rights issues.
Three students are also studying and working abroad through the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute’s Dagen-Legomsky Fellowship program. McCall Carter and Margaret Wichmann received the Dagen-Legomsky International Public Interest Fellowship to support their work abroad.
Carter is leading a delegation of Washington University Law students, including Lauren Roberts, Lorilei Williams, and Ajay Sharma, who are working with the Church of Northern India. The Nagpur-based non-profit is dedicated to the prevention and punishment of human trafficking. Wichmann also is working on trafficking issues as an intern at the Mekong Region Law Center in Bangkok, Thailand. Also in Bangkok is Sarah Plazcek who is interning for the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP).
Additionally, Shannon Dobson received the Dagen-Legomsky Hague Fellowship to attend the Hague Academy for International Law in the Netherlands.
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.