Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the United States and abroad. This dispatch from Maura Douglas L’18 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers. Maura is originally from Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Upon graduation, she is planning to practice in New York (and/or London), and is interested in international arbitration, litigation, corporate governance, and global investigations.
This summer, I am working at the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) in London as a Mead Fellow and International Summer Human Rights Fellow (ISHRF). Before attending law school, I worked at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), where I developed a strong interest in the importance of economic development and cross-sector collaboration to address pressing human rights issues. After attending an event in the fall on the intersection of business and human rights with my contracts professor, Jean Galbraith, I knew I wanted to pursue an opportunity this summer focusing on this kind of legal research. After looking into potential placements, Penn Law’s Associate Dean of International Programs, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, was able to connect me with the IHRB team, and it was a perfect fit.
At IHRB, I am currently working on multiple projects, predominantly focused on compliance and regulatory matters related to the extractive industry in Africa. This has not only allowed me to hone my international research and writing skills, but also introduced me to new trends in global business affairs and sector-specific issues. My civil procedure and international law courses helped prepare me to consider the challenges of jurisdiction and extraterritoriality, as well as parent-subsidiary dynamics when companies are conducting business in a host state. Further, my time at CGI before attending Penn Law allowed me to consider the different stakeholders at play when addressing business objectives and human rights issues, and how these intersections will become increasingly more complex and intertwined in the future.
Not only does cross-disciplinary and international work provide a unique perspective on different areas of research or advocacy, but it allows immersion into a different community or culture. By living in London this summer, I was able to witness the dialogue, debate, and ultimate vote on the referendum to leave the European Union. Though this event was certainly discussed internationally, being present in the city was eye-opening and provided me tangible exposure to the U.K. political and legal systems. When I return to Penn Law, I hope to utilize this experience at IHRB and continue exploring academic coursework in international law, particularly conflict of laws, international arbitration, and corporate governance. Further, I plan to pursue an externship in the spring or following fall related to international work in New York or Washington, D.C.
I am eternally grateful to Dean de Silva de Alwis, Professor Galbraith, the ISHRF team, and the Mead family for providing me with the support and the funding to pursue this opportunity. As a Mead Fellow, I look forward to engaging with the Penn Law community when I return about the importance of international experience to enhance one’s legal education and career.
- Maura Douglas