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Penn Law to establish ACE Rule of Law Fellowship with Human Rights First

July 11, 2012

- Partnership to create new pathways for students to pursue careers in global rule of law and human rights -

In an effort to create new pathways for students to build careers in international rule of law and human rights, the University of Pennsylvania Law School is establishing the ACE Rule of Law Fellowship with the generous support of both the ACE Charitable Foundation and ACE Limited General Counsel Robert Cusumano, a 1980 Penn Law graduate. Human Rights First, a preeminent legal advocacy organization, will partner with Penn Law to enable graduates to work at Human Rights First on cutting-edge projects in rule of law and global human rights. 

The creation of the ACE Rule of Law Fellowship will provide five Penn Law graduates over the next five years opportunities to advocate for human rights, compliance with international norms and standards of good governance and human rights, and improved operation of legal systems around the globe.  Graduating law students and recent alumni will be eligible for the fellowship, whose applications will be reviewed by an International Advisory Board convened by Penn Law.   One Fellow will be chosen each year, and Fellows will immerse themselves in one or more of Human Rights First’s programmatic areas, such as Egypt and the Arab Spring; internet freedom and privacy; national security and human rights; and crimes against humanity.  

 “I see evidence every day that the rule of law is the central platform on which countries build stable economic, social, and political cultures around the globe,” Mr. Cusumano said regarding his gift to Penn Law.  “Law students today need to understand not only the content of the law, but how it is created and deployed, culture by culture, around the world.  It is my hope that this new fellowship at Penn Law will allow graduating students to see first-hand what it takes to make a legal system evolve, and encourage them to work for organizations and institutions aimed at promoting the rule of law, human rights and good governance around the world.”

In 2008, Cusumano established the ACE Rule of Law Fund, a unique partnership among the ACE Group, its legal staff and several of its partner law firms that supports projects to enhance the rule of law around the world.

“ACE’s law department and charitable foundation have shown real prescience in supporting the rule of law, culminating now in this program of study and career development for Penn Law students,” said Michael A. Fitts, Dean of Penn Law. “This is truly a fantastic opportunity for a Penn Law graduate and for Penn Law more broadly.  This fellowship will allow Penn Law students to take what they have learned in law school and apply it to the most critical issues of our day with the organization that has led the way in promoting global respect for human rights and the rule of law.  At the same time, it helps the legal academy to recognize the importance of seeing the rule of law and human rights field as its own dedicated practice field.”

“The rule of law is the guarantor of human rights in the United States and around the world,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “We are deeply grateful to Bob Cusumano for his leadership and to ACE for enabling this wonderful new partnership with Penn Law.  The ACE Rule of Law Fellows will play an integral role in our work and will give new lawyers an opportunity to make a difference,” Massimino added. “This new fellowship underscores the University of Pennsylvania’s commendable commitment to putting students’ classroom experience into action, and we are pleased to play a role in that effort.”

The partnership between Penn Law and Human Rights First will allow the institutions to explore additional programs to support the development of curricular and extracurricular initiatives in human rights and the rule of law.

A historical leader in teaching international and comparative law, Penn Law School has built upon this foundation over the past several years to create an International Program offering unrivalled opportunities for students. For example, Penn Law professors and scholars bring diverse training, research interests, and scholarly work to instill a broad global view of the role of law in society into all their courses, and the Law School in recent years has developed a range of programs that give students firsthand experience with what it means to practice law in an international setting.

These programs include joint/dual-degree and certificate programs; the Transnational Human Rights Legal Clinic; International Summer Human Rights Fellowships; the International Internship Program; the Global Research Seminar; and study abroad opportunities. These programs afford students opportunities to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world settings abroad - while raising questions in class based on actual experiences overseas.

In addition, the Law School’s Bok Visiting International Professors Program brings up to six globally-recognized leaders in legal academia and practice to Penn Law each year to teach courses in their areas of expertise.

The ACE Charitable Foundation assists less fortunate individuals and communities around the world in achieving and sustaining healthy lives. Through a combination of Foundation grants and employee volunteer initiatives, ACE focuses its support in the areas of education, the environment, and poverty and health. The ACE Group is one of the world’s largest multiline property and casualty insurers. With operations in 53 countries, ACE provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients.

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. Whether it is protecting refugees, combating torture, or defending persecuted minorities, Human Rights First focuses not on making a point, but on making a difference. For over 30 years, Human Rights First has built bipartisan coalitions and teamed up with frontline activists and lawyers to tackle issues that demand American leadership.