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Externship: U.S. Department of State

May 02, 2022

Quinn Dunkak L’22 came to law school with an interest in international affairs. An externship with the State Department allowed him to explore ways to combine international law with government service.

As he entered law school, Quinn Dunkak L’22 knew that he wanted to delve into international law and policy. Over his three years at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, he explored this interest through several leadership roles and programs, including a meaningful externship in his final year.

In his 3L fall semester, Quinn externed with the U.S. Department of State, where he was assigned to the Office of the Legal Adviser for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (L/PD). L/PD is the unit responsible for providing legal advice to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and staff, and the extended PD family, on such matters as international educational and cultural exchanges, international information programs, and the protection of the cultural patrimony of other countries (including bilateral cultural property agreements).

One of Quinn’s main projects for the L/PD unit involved questions of cultural property protection stemming from a certain foreign state that was facing political and civil unrest.

“I was asked to provide an account of the legal history and framework of cultural property protections in the United States and analyze the means and extent to which the executive branch could disincentivize the illicit excavation and trade of cultural property in the foreign state,” he said.

It was an assignment that involved intensive research and creative legal analysis.

“I offered several novel suggestions for L/PD to consider in order to address the situation both quickly and effectively but in a manner according with the rule of law,” Quinn said.

He was heavily involved in addressing both procedural and substantive queries related to exchange visitor programs as well — for example, questions regarding health insurance coverage requirements for exchange visitors and how the State Department might interpret and enforce its regulations when designated sponsors have taken a different approach.

Quinn also provided support for evaluating requests from major cultural institutions for immunity from judicial seizure determinations on foreign cultural objects to be imported temporarily into the United States for exhibition and other related activities — identifying controlling laws regarding the foreign objects at issue and key legal questions posed by each request.

The State Department externship reinforced Quinn’s increasing commitment to government service. The preceding summer, he had interned with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps in Fort Carson, Colorado. After graduation, he will be joining the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Quinn’s internship and externship experiences in law school have been both broad and deep.

“Each government entity I worked at had unique aims and cultures, but their attorneys all shared the same goal of using their legal skills and positions to promote the common good in some way,” he said. “They have inspired me and cemented my desire to pursue a legal career devoted to serving the public interest.”

Penn Carey Law’s Externship Program is designed to supplement the Law School’s offerings by providing external opportunities for students to observe and participate meaningfully in lawyering at government agencies and nonprofit organizations as well as with judges.

Learn more about externship opportunities at the Law School.