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Testimonials

This page will collect testimonials from UCLA Law students in regards to their experiences studying or working in international law.

Shaila Rahman, UCLA ’09: UNHCR Internship in Geneva

“I came to law school to do international human rights work not completely knowing what that would entail. I knew I wanted to work either with refugees or in international development (microfinance) but I had very limited experience in those fields. For my 1L summer, I decided to get a domestic internship that would give me the opportunity to gain some experience in at least one of those fields. I thought that immigration might be a good way to get a bit of experience in refugee/asylum law and possibly improve my Spanish. My summer job at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. ended up being great for both these ends. In addition to improving my Spanish by working with clients from South and Central America, I gained important experience and learned about asylum law. One of the attorneys at CLINIC, who worked with the UNHCR in South America, gave me the names of some people to whom I could send my resume. I sent out cover letters and resumes to about 7 UNHCR offices around the world, who forwarded my materials to about 5 more. After about one or two months or preparation, correspondence, and interviews with different offices, the Geneva office offered me a position. I was thrilled when I got the news and immediately started preparations to get the internship approved by the school. It took a bit of paperwork, but the school approved the externship. Getting my externship at the UNHCR in Geneva took a lot of hard work, persistence, and patience but, in the end, it was worth the effort.”

Andrew Boyle, UCLA ’08: ICTR Summer Internship

During my 1L summer I interned at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) located in Arusha, Tanzania. I interned in the Tribunal’s Chambers, which meant that I worked for a judge and his legal officer (the equivalent of a clerk). In the position I was able to learn about international criminal law first-hand, and it was a tremendous experience. I had the opportunity to research and write memos on a couple of different international criminal law topics, as
well as draft decisions on motions. Also, a large part of the internship was summarizing witness testimony for the judges, which is interesting and necessary, but not the most challenging work. I really liked the people that I worked with, both the UN staff and the other interns, and I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in international law and especially in international criminal law consider interning at one of the ad-hoc international criminal tribunals or at the ICC.

To secure the internship I applied to the ICTR using the internship application available on its website. The application asks you to list three preferences for internship placement, and the vast majority of interns worked in either Chambers or for the Prosecution. There were, however, interns in Defense as well. I applied in early November, and didn’t get final confirmation that I had received the internship until early March. In the interim, I followed up periodically by e-mail with the internship coordinator to check on the status of my application and to show my continuing interest.

Claudia Pena, UCLA ’08: Int’l Work in Palestine and South Africa

Having been partly raised in El Salvador, I came to UCLAw knowing that I wanted to work in int’l human rights. However, international human rights is quite an expansive area and I wasn’t sure how to narrow it down. Then, I was given the advice that it is important to make one of two choices – decide on either the type of law you want to practice eg., children’s rights or the place you’d like to practice eg., West Africa.
My first law school summer, I decided I wanted to work in Palestine. Upon making this decision, I sent an email to my network of social justice-minded colleagues seeking any connections. I received an email from a friend who had a friend who was on the board of an organization that advocated for refugee rights. She put me in contact with him and after our first conversation, he was willing to vouch on my behalf. After he sent the organization an email, I sent them my resume and had an offer for a non-paid internship within a month. The internship consisted of heavy writing and research which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The same is true for my second summer. I decided I wanted to work in South Africa. I sent out an email and again a friend put me in contact with a friend of his who had moved out to South Africa. She guided me along the trek in finding an NGO. Because of my experience in refugee work, I was able to find an internship in Johannesburg working towards refugee and migrant workers’ rights. She spoke with them directly and secured an internship (after I sent my curriculum vitae). I ended up working with clients directly by assisting refugees with detention issues, securing asylum status, housing and employment opportunities. I found the experience incredibly rewarding!

Keith Fichtelman, UCLA ’08– Int’l Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

I spent the Fall Semester working with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  The tribunal is tasked with the adjudication of the alleged organizers and instigators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and is based in Arusha, Tanzania.  I worked in one of the tribunals chambers in support of two separate cases that were awaiting their final judgments.  While at the tribunal I conducted research into standards of evidentiary review, attended court hearings, and reviewed evidentiary support in the final judgments.  I also had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda and visit some of the genocide sites.  I was also able to attend the rendering of the final judgment in one of my cases.

John Pellegrini, UCLA ’08– ICTY

I externed at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
(ICTY), the UN court set up in The Hague, The Netherlands to prosecute war
crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed after 1991 during
the breakup of Yugoslavia.  I was staffed in the Office of the Prosecutor
(OTP), Appeals section, which was great because I got to work on a few
different cases.  Professor Beard was my seminar professor during the
externship.

As background, I am from San Francisco, spent my first summer working for
the U.S. State Department’s Mission to the United Nations in NY and my 2L
summer with Latham & Watkins splitting between SF and NY.

Andrew Treptow, Class of 2008– Pentagon, DOD Office of General Counsel

My externship was at the Pentagon, with the Department of Defense Office of
the General Counsel.  The “abroad” part of my externship was a week-long
trip I took to Kazakhstan as part of a treaty negotiation team.

Prof Beard oversaw my externship, and in fact worked at the Pentagon before
coming to UCLA, so he knows all about the externship.

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