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 post is one in a series of firsthand accounts detailing how students’ summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.
Eduarda Lague L’21 grew up in Franklin, Tennessee. She attended the University of Tennessee for her undergraduate degree, where she double majored in Political Science and Hispanic Studies and double minored in Portuguese and Latin American Studies. At Penn Law, she is Co-President of the Latinx Law Students Association. She previously worked as an intern coordinator for Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05).
This summer I am working at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. CEJIL is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with consultative status before the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations. Its mission is to contribute to the full enjoyment of human rights in the Americas through the effective use of the tools of the Inter-American System and other International Human Rights Law protection mechanisms. CEJIL brings cases before the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights when states violate or fail to protect human rights. The Buenos Aires office focuses on human rights issues pertaining to Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia.
The work assignments and exposure could not be more rewarding. The office handles a variety of cases and client work, including indigenous rights, overcriminalization of vulnerable communities, migration, use of force, and many more. The office is small, but it means that I get to work closely with the attorneys and that there is a lot of hands-on work. I have used the legal writing skills that I learned in my first-year writing class to research and write memos on human rights issues — such as indigenous land rights and forced disappearances by state actors — that will be presented to the Inter-American Commission and Court, and to compile information and data for the GQUAL campaign that works on gender parity in international bodies. I have become acquainted with the Inter-American System and navigating its different standards and complex legal issues. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to sit in on a variety of conference calls and client meetings. It has been an impactful experience to hear the intimate testimonies of families affected by human rights violations.
This experience has built on what I learned in International Law as well as my undergraduate education in Spanish and Latin American Studies. These projects will continue to contribute to the intersection of my passions for Latin America and law as I pursue a Certificate of Study in Latin American and Latinx Studies during my 2L and 3L years at Penn. Moreover, this summer will prove invaluable to my future as I hope to continue working in Latin America during my legal career.
It can be daunting at first to work in a different legal system, in not my first or second, but third language (as all the assignments are in Spanish), while living in a country where I did not know a single person. However, the attorneys have been extremely welcoming and helpful in explaining legal issues and procedures as well as giving great recommendations for things to do. I am beyond thankful for the International Summer Human Rights Fellowship for providing me with the opportunity and funding to pursue my passions in the legal field.