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 Margaret Ledak L’19 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.
Ledak is originally from Keller, Texas. She attended UCLA where she doubled majored in International Development and Spanish and Portuguese. Before Penn Law, she worked in the Chilean branch of Transparency International and in the governance department of the international nonprofit, World Vision. After graduation, she plans to work with international corporate law, building on her work experiences in Latin America.
There’s always something new to learn when working at Bermeo & Bermeo. It’s been a truly unique opportunity to not only work in intellectual property (IP) for my 1L summer, but more so to do it in Quito, Ecuador. It’s been fascinating to observe how Ecuador is both similar to and different from other countries in what it considers to be patentable and deserving of trademark protection. Working at the firm has been great, because I’ve been able to get involved in a variety of aspects of the IP practice area. My tasks have ranged from preparing evidence for trademark litigation to drafting correspondence between international clients and the Ecuadorian national patent office. In addition to working on trademark and patent claims, I’ve also been able to work on some corporate matters, such as reviews of international distribution agreements.
This summer in Quito will prove to be invaluable to my future career because it has been a work experience unlike any I could have imagined receiving stateside. Working outside of the United States has better prepared me to work at the intersection of different legal systems, and the unique challenges this presents. It has been especially interesting to work within a civil law jurisdiction and to witness firsthand how it differs from the common law jurisprudence of the United States. While I need to constantly remind myself to check the applicable legal codes, I have also been able to apply much of what I learned in my classes at Penn Law, such as contracts and international law. It’s been a great experience transforming what were previously academic concepts into actual practice and legal realities.
Moreover, being at Bermeo & Bermeo this summer has truly exemplified Penn Law’s sense of community. From the beginning, I was welcomed into the firm by Pablo Bermeo, who received his LLM from Penn Law. It’s been wonderful being able to discuss with him the differences between the Ecuadorian and American legal and political systems, as well as how the coffee in Philadelphia and Quito compares. This experience has solidified for me that the Penn Law network is truly international. And luckily, this experience has been possible because I was able to receive funding through the Penn Law International Internship Program (PLIIP).
It’s very clear that law does not stand alone, and it interacts with the politics, history, and culture of Ecuador, or wherever we practice law. I am confident that this summer has helped to prepare me for a future working in international law.
- Margaret Ledak