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Pathways to the Profession: Jon Blomberg L’21

August 29, 2019

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.

Jon Blomberg L’21 is originally from Plymouth, Michigan. He graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2015.

Over the summer, I participated in the 2019 Summer Internship Program at the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) at Penn Law.  It was an incredible opportunity to study international issues related to national security and learn from fellow interns in different academic disciplines.

Because of the issues that CERL addresses, I was able to apply knowledge and skills I acquired in law school, particularly in the international law and legal practice skills areas. This was especially helpful because I spent a significant amount of time working in a group to research an interrogation technique currently used by the U.S. military, and I had to analyze whether it could qualify as cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under domestic United States and international law. By applying my foundational knowledge of international law to untangle such a challenging issue, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying doctrine. Moreover, I began to truly appreciate how legal writing can make a difference in a matter where the issue has real stakes.  

Along with the opportunity to study international legal issues, the internship allowed me to work closely with graduate students from different academic disciplines. I worked in teams with a law student, two students pursuing PhDs in philosophy, and a student pursuing an LLM degree in law and diplomacy. Each group was assigned a topic to research and write on, and we allocated the work among us. We collaborated to find a position with which we all agreed. This helped us to account for potential objections in each of our respective disciplines and refine our position before discussing it with CERL staff. For example, discussing the moral, ethical, and epistemic concerns about an interrogation technique and keeping them in mind when formulating our position ensured that we took a position that was more normative than a traditional legal memorandum might have been. 

I also met accomplished national security professionals. Our intern class engaged with them in their areas of expertise and also received professional development advice. For example, we met with New York Timesnational security reporter Scott Shane to talk about his work on the Bush-era interrogation and torture program. We also spoke with Marine Brigadier General John Baker, chief defense counsel at the Guantánamo Bay military commissions. These meetings enhanced the internship program by allowing us to interact with professionals on the front lines of critically important national security issues.  

I am incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to work at the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law after my 1L year. It was an enriching experience that allowed me to research and write about international issues while working with graduate students in law, public policy, national security, and philosophy.