Georgia Law 3L Lauren Brown on her NATO externship in Belgium: “a full appreciation for the privileges we enjoy and the responsibilities we bear”

Pleased today to welcome this post by University of Georgia School of Law student Lauren Brown, working this Spring 2019 semester in Mons, Belgium, in the legal department of a leading unit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Pictured above right, she is the inaugural holder of this externship, administered by our law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center in partnership with NATO Allied Command Transformation. Lauren arrived at Georgia Law with considerable background in security policy, and her experiences here have included a Summer 2017 Global Externship Overseas at the nongovernmental organization War Child Holland. She is due to receive her J.D. degree this May, and thereafter to become an Associate at the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm Squire Patton Boggs. Lauren recounts her ongoing NATO experience below.

The opportunity to work with the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) Legal Advisor’s Office at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Staff Element Europe (SEE) has been a unique and exciting experience. At this halfway mark, I am very pleased with what I have been able to experience thus far, and I look forward to the coming weeks as the externship continues.

My observations can be broadly divided into three categories, legal experience, professional experience, and practical experience, each of which I discuss below.

Legal Experience

It is important to note that I have carefully crafted much of my previous and future working life to avoid two things: complex math and regulatory work. Accordingly, my hopes were somewhat dashed when I received my first assignment: Draft a data protection and privacy regulation.

The actual work, however, was absolutely fascinating. The ultimate challenge was to create a directive that provided sufficient data protection and privacy standards and that struck a balance among the disparate domestic standards. The work also involved coordination with existing data protection and privacy directives within other NATO bodies, in order to ensure the provisions allowed for a workable level of cohesion across policies.

The resulting effort felt very much like a logic puzzle, with each component capable of fitting, and the task being to figure out how to make it fit. The assignment was a tremendous introduction to the legal experience within the externship. It demonstrated that although focus and ambition are important, flexibility and an open mind are also critical. Without them, I would have missed an opportunity to participate in a fascinating project and expand my interests—even to include regulatory work.

Professional Experience

Before arriving at NATO, I had been extremely fortunate in that I’d had opportunities to work in several different cities, in several different professional environments. But I had never before experienced the working life of a military base. The primary adjustment has been the strictness of the adherence to decorum and hierarchy—and the impressive bureaucracy that accompanies such practice. In my time here, I have learned that even when the waters seem murky and the process opaque, there are always channels that move a little more swiftly, and success in such an organization appears to be directly related to one’s ability to identify and utilize such avenues.

Practical Experience

I have also enjoyed experiences that resonate beyond the professional sphere. Two such instances were particularly impactful:

  • The first occurred during a training on rules of engagement at NATO Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum in the Netherlands (site of the photos accompanying this post). By the time of this training, I had become accustomed to the presence of uniforms and their associated patches, which usually denote membership in a division or the service member’s assigned NATO unit. On the last day of the training, however, a new patch caught my eye: a large square stating the bearer’s blood type. The realization of when such a patch would be useful, and its place as a standardized part of the uniform, reminded me of a fact I had clearly forgotten: this exercise was not just theoretical. The reliance these men and women have on laws of armed conflict and rules of engagement dictate life and death choices in very real, and very dangerous, situations.
  • The second served largely the same realization; that is, it reinforced my understanding of the scale at which laws, and their functioning or not, can impact people. I met a friend in Paris for a weekend, and through a course of events that can sometimes happen during travel, we found ourselves marching with the so-called Yellow Vests calling for action against climate change. The group with which we marched was peaceful and numbered very close to 10,000. But a few hours later, we encountered the other group of Yellow Vests, the militant wing of violent rioters who burned or broke almost every structure they encountered. For me, the experience reiterated the idea that when laws or policies fail people, people may react. The rules that govern our social existence must be crafted and interpreted with care, and without negligence toward the future or the marginalized.

The patches and the protests were powerful reminders, both on an intimate and broader level, that what attorneys do matters. We cannot undertake our work with anything but a full appreciation for the privileges we enjoy and the responsibilities we bear.

I feel extremely fortunate for the opportunity to have such an experience while in law school, and I want to especially thank the NATO personnel with whom I have interacted in Belgium, including attorneys Lewis Bumgardner, Galateia Gialitaki, and Steven Hill, as well as Georgia Law professors Kathleen Doty and Diane Marie Amann, for making this externship possible.

Update from Nigeria: attorney Chukwudi Ofili, LLM Class of 2018, reflects on his post-graduation year

This is one in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law LLM students, writing on their participation in our LLM degree and about their post-graduate experiences. Author of this post is alumnus Chukwudi Ofili, a member of the Class of 2018.

Chudi photoIt has been an eventful year for me. In January 2018, during my last semester at the University of Georgia, I began a corporate in-house counsel externship – an experiential learning opportunity open to qualified Georgia Law LLM students – at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta There, I had the opportunity to work on issues such as cybersecurity, imports, and Office of Foreign Assets Control compliance.

Following graduation, I took the New York bar examination in July.  When I learned that I had passed, I was in London, participating in the highly selective International Lawyers For Africa (ILFA) 2018 Flagship Secondment Programme (IFSP), which each year places lawyers from various African jurisdictions at highly reputed international law firms and corporations for a period of three months. I was placed with Trinity International LLP, a niche project and corporate finance firm focusing on energy, infrastructure, resources, and industry. During my secondment, I worked on some international transactions, with focus on financing power and infrastructure projects across the African continent.

Chudi speechIFSP was an enriching and exciting experience. It included training programs and networking events that introduced the participants to some of the brightest minds in the international legal market, in diverse practice areas. In particular, the networking opportunities were immense and may not be replicated in our lives on such a scale. I was pleased to selected to deliver the valedictory address for the London IFSP cohort at the ILFA Gala Night, which marked the end of the program.

I am now happy to be back in Nigeria at Bloomfield Law Practice, in the Corporate, Securities, and Finance practice group. I was recently interviewed for an article in THISDAY Newspaper Nigeria Legal Personality of the Week. In the interview, I expressed my hopes for good prospects in 2019. The year is already off to a good start: I’ve just completed a co-authored article,  Recognition and Enforcement of Cross-Border Insolvency; Nigeria in Perspective.

I came to Georgia Law after working with my firm, Bloomfield Law Practice, having graduated with first-class honors from Babcock University in Nigeria. At Georgia Law, I was the recipient of a prestigious graduate research assistantship, and participated in the Business Law Society.

I will always recommend the Georgia Law LLM curriculum, as it is tailored to each student’s career goals; for example, preparing to sit for a U.S. bar exam, or pursuing a concentration. Plus, students come to find out that Athens (which is just about an hour away from Atlanta) is a lovely place for studies, with friendly people.

Summer 2018 GEOs & Summer School: Georgia Law Students take off around the globe

Globe (002)_kdIn the weeks ahead, 13 rising 2L and 3L students at the University of Georgia School of Law will depart for Global Externship Overseas (GEO) and Global Externship At Home (GEA) placements all around the world. Administered by the Dean Rusk International Law Center, the GEO and GEA initiatives place Georgia Law students in externships lasting between four and twelve weeks, and offer students the opportunity to gain practical work experience in a variety of legal settings worldwide.

This summer, GEO students will undertake placements in law firms, in-house legal departments, nongovernmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations across Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. Practice areas include: dispute resolution, corporate law, international trade law, intellectual property law, international human rights law, refugee law, cultural heritage law, and international environmental law.

This year’s GEO class includes the following students, who will complete placements in private law settings:

  • Brooke Carrington (2L) – Buse Heberer Fromm, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Brad Gerke (3L) – Ferrero S.A., Luxembourg
  • Ashley Henson (2L) – PwC, Turin, Italy
  • Maddie Neel ­(2L) – GÖRG, Cologne, Germany
  • Nicole Song (2L) – Araoz y Rueda, Madrid, Spain

Additionally, the following students will work in public interest law placements:

  • Zoe Ferguson (2L) – War Child, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Drew Hedin (2L) – Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Apia, Samoa
  • Hanna Karimipour (2L) – No Peace Without Justice, Brussels, Belgium
  • Matt Isihara (3L) – Boat People SOS, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Devon Pawloski (2L) – Documentation Centre of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Frances Plunkett (2L) – Open Society Justice Initiative, The Hague, Netherlands

Last, but certainly not least, two students will undertake GEA placements in Washington, D.C.:

  • Casey Callahan (3L) — International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Caroline Harvey (2L) – The Antiquities Coalition

Finally, during the first ten days of July, eight Georgia Law students will gather in Leuven, Belgium for the Global Governance Summer School, which the Center again co-presents with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies. Students will spend several days in classroom sessions at Leuven, and then spend two days in Brussels: one to attend a high-level policymaking event, and the other on professional development visits at a law firm, a nongovernmental organization, and an intergovernmental organization.  The group will then proceed to The Hague, Netherlands, for several days of briefings at international courts and tribunals and other cultural excursions.

Join us in wishing these students an unforgettable summer, and stay tuned for travel updates in the coming months!

Student Rebecca Wackym on her GEO at Hebron Rehabilitation Committee

This is one in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law students, writing on their participation in our 2017 Global Governance Summer School or Global Externship Overseas initiative. Author of this post is 2L Rebecca Wackym, who spent her 1L summer as a GEO, or Global Extern Overseas.

For six weeks this summer, I lived and worked in the ancient and industrial city of Hebron (in Arabic, “Al-Khalil”) in the southern West Bank. Hebron is often touted as a “microcosm” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And for good reason: Hebron’s contested Old City district is home to both 30,000 Palestinians and 500-800 Israeli settlers, the latter protected by approximately 2,000 Israeli troops.

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At the center of the Old City and the conflict in Hebron is the Ibrahimi Mosque. It is the burial place of the patriarchs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah. It is the oldest religious building in the world that has been continually used for its original purpose, and it is the only religious building that serves as both a mosque and a synagogue. Much like the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock area, the Ibrahimi Mosque has been the subject of a tug of war between the Israelis and Palestinians since the occupation began.

The organization I worked for, Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC), is on the front lines of the battle for cultural heritage rights. HRC succeeded in its efforts to designate the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Old City of Hebron as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Danger. During my time in Hebron, I worked with the Legal Unit of Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, which was founded to respond to human rights violations against the Palestinian citizens of the Old City, particularly violations pertaining to personal and public property.

Wackym6.jpgThe Legal Unit of the HRC uses several legal and policy strategies to achieve this purpose. These include: filing domestic complaints against Israeli Defense Forces orders; filing complaints with various international human rights bodies; conducting international awareness campaigns; and directly educating Palestinians about their rights. I had the opportunity to work on several of these complaints. On one filed with the United Nations Human Rights Council, I did research on Israeli case law.  My research involved the exhaustion of domestic remedies requirement in the context of road closure cases, in which the courts typically do not get involved if the closure can be justified by a “security-related” reason. I also wrote a complaint to the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. For this project, I conducted interviews with victims, compiled evidence, and researched relevant military orders and case law.

The transition from living in the United States to living in a conservative, Muslim-majority place was daunting, but my supervisor, Nicole Trudeau, did everything she could to ease the culture shock. She introduced me to her Palestinian friends and invited me to eat with local residents of the Old City. I felt very welcome and even at home during my time in Hebron. The professional culture was more relaxed than in the United States – the office closed at 3 pm, and tea breaks were customary– but I was surprised to find that it was also almost as progressive. Women outnumbered men in the office and had leadership roles. It was an eye-opening to see a conservative culture value women in the workforce.

During my externship with HRC, I received an invaluable education not only in human rights, cultural heritage, and humanitarian law practice, but also in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their respective cultures. I spent weekends traveling all over Israel and the West Bank. I spoke with members of the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian soldiers, young people in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, settlers in Hebron, and local and international activists just trying to make the situation better. The experience was absolutely incredible. And I will never forget the friends I left in Hebron. Salam!

An adventure in Germany: GEO student Nick Duffey on his externship at GÖRG

This is the 1st in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law students, writing on their participation in our 2017 Global Governance Summer School and Global Externship Overseas initiatives. Author of this post is 2L Nick Duffey.

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Before my Global Externship Overseas, I had an interest in transnational business, taxation, and trade, but I did not understand how businesses from different countries resolved their disputes. After spending my 1L summer working at GÖRG, a law firm in Cologne, Germany, it is amazing how much more perspective I have on international business law and practice.

International business transactions affect our everyday lives, from the products we use to the services we need to maintain our lifestyles and businesses. Most transactions, whether for the manufacture and shipping of products or for services rendered by a party from one nation to another, contain arbitration clauses or provide for another means of alternative dispute resolution. These dispute resolution mechanisms were the precise focus of my work at GÖRG.

My favorite project during my internship was an emergency arbitration at the 20170707_134329.jpgInternational Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration. The entire process, from start to finish, lasted only fifteen days. During this intense period, I was given a particular issue to research, and I was thrilled when the material I found was cited by the arbitrator in the order. The opportunity to see the whole arbitration action from start to finish, and to be integrated into the team working on the project, was very interesting.

I also worked on a project to compare the cost and rates of various arbitration institutions with the cost of litigating in the German court system. The goal was to determine the price at which each arbitration institution broke even with German courts. This required a lot of math and conversion of different currencies. Ultimately, I wrote a memo on my findings and created a presentation to demonstrate to clients the value of arbitration.

20170702_200454.jpgLiving and working in Germany was an adventure. The GÖRG building sits just north of the Deutzer Brücke, a bridge over the Rhine River in Köln; that is, Cologne. It is a modern building with seven floors. I shared an office with a German intern, and she was very helpful when I had questions about the German courts and legal system. I am also grateful to Christof Siefarth, a partner at the firm and an LL.M. graduate of Georgia Law, for his mentorship during the course of the summer and for organizing my externship.

In my free time, I had the chance to participate in cultural events and to travel within Germany. During Kölner Lichter, an annual festival of lights, people from all over Germany flocked to the city to watch the boat parade on the Rhine. I took a day trip south of Köln to visit Castle Drachenfels, a beautiful castle with a rich history. I also spent a weekend in Berlin, a must-see city in Germany. I enjoyed wonderful brunches until late in the afternoon, and visited sights such as the Brandenburg gate, Museum Island, and the Berlin Wall memorial, including the East Side Gallery.

Participating in a GEO at GÖRG is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I have a new interest in arbitration, and I plan to apply to work at an international arbitration center this coming summer. I look forward to building a career in this field because I want to better understand the way businesses clash and resolve issues on an international level. This summer was amazing not only because I garnered valuable practical legal experience, but also because I got to do so on a wonderful adventure that I will remember for life.

GEO student Zack Lindsey publishes in Global Atlanta

geo2University of Georgia School of Law second-year student Zack Lindsey published an article in Global Atlanta about his experience this summer working in Ghana.

Ghana

During his Global Externship Overseas, or GEO,  Zack spent approximately two months in Accra working with Women in Law and Development in Africa. His work focused on the implementation of the Ghanaian Domestic Violence Act of 2007; he was responsible for helping set up a volunteer court watch program, training volunteers on the law, and conducting court surveys. He describes this work as “a key issue for Ghana” because of high rates of spousal abuse, but low rates of conviction under the Act.

global atlantaZack is one of twenty Georgia Law students who participated in the GEO initiative this summer. His article in Global Atlanta, a partner organization of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, draws parallels between the challenges facing victims of domestic violence seeking redress in Ghana to Georgia.

Georgia Law 3L Chanel Chauvet begins term as Student President of International Law Students Association

Chanel Chauvet, a Dean Rusk International Law Center Student Ambassador and member of the J.D. Class of 2018 at the University of Georgia School of Law, has turned to social media to reach the global membership of the International Law Students Association, whom she now serves as 2017-18 Student President.

In the YouTube video above, she offers her

“deepest gratitude for the confidence that the International Law Student Association chapters all around the world have placed in me and members of my administration.”

That team of student officers were elected earlier this year by vote of the chapters. Chanel adds:

“I would also like to thank the faculty at the University of Georgia School of Law and my family for their support.”

Also thanked were predecessor presidents, among them Kaitlin Ball, who earned her Georgia Law J.D. in 2014 and is now a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Politics & International Studies at the University of Cambridge, England. They are the 2d and 3d Georgia Law students to hold the position; also leading ILSA while a student was Richard Alembik (JD’91).

My student in a number of international law classes and a presenter at Georgia Law’s IntLawGrrls conference last spring, Chanel is working this summer as a Legal Fellow at CARE headquarters in Atlanta. Last summer, she earned a Certificate in International Humanitarian Law at Leiden Law School’s Grotius Centre in The Hague, Netherlands. Prior Exchange of Notes blog posts by or about her are here.

Her ILSA statement looks forward in particular to ILSA’s 2 signature events, the International Law Weekend set for October 19-21 in New York, and the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition, final rounds of which will occur in April 2018 in Washington, D.C.

¡Brava!