Externships Abroad Give Students an International Perspective

For students looking to gain an inside picture of how law is implemented abroad, international externships provide unique and unforgettable learning opportunities. Usually coordinated through the campus Externship Office, externships both home and abroad provide students with valuable networking and career experience.

For Lee Anna Tucker (right), a third year Washington College of Law student, living abroad is nothing new.  An Oklahoma native with an academic background in international relations, Middle East studies, and Arabic, Tucker spent a year in Syria prior to law school teaching English on a scholarship.   

 But this summer abroad was particularly rewarding, according to Tucker, where she spent her time working for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.    

Tucker says “everything converged” during her time in The Hague.  The networking opportunities and hands-on experience only further confirmed her interest in pursuing a career in international law and policy.

Working specifically with the Defence Office, Tucker and other interns worked on long-term memoranda in preparation for upcoming trials on issues implicating defense rights before the tribunal.    

“The experience was an important window to how international criminal law is applied at high-levels, and how various states participate and are affected by these proceedings,” said Tucker. “The high-level international criminal legal experience illustrates how international criminal law might be applied at the domestic level, in transitional justice situations.”

Elizabeth Raulston (below), a second year law student, also appreciated the sense of legal perspective that her summer externship with the International Bar Association in London provided. 

According to Raulston, who worked specifically with the Human Rights Institute within the IBA, the summer was more focused on capacity building and less on advocacy.  She worked on a variety of projects from drafting background documents used for training lawyers in Rwanda, to authoring an op-ed and letters addressing crimes in Burma.  

On one project, Raulston aided lawyers who were working to abolish the death penalty in Morocco.    

“It is interesting to see what U.S. decisions look like to other countries,” said Raulston. “The lawyers were shocked to hear that the death penalty is not as big of a debate here.”   

Although Raulston already had an interest in international justice prior to law school (she holds a Master’s Degree from London School of Economics in Conflict Studies, focusing on post-conflict justice issues), she says the experience has made her more realistic about future job prospects and opportunities.

“It was a good networking opportunity,” she said. “ The people there were great to work with, and serious about what they do.”

Lee Tucker had a similar experience within the Tribunal. She appreciated the opportunity to network, and said that most tribunals had contacts within other tribunals.

“The tribunal world is really small…most international criminal law professionals have worked in multiple tribunals or courts and are connected to each other,” said Tucker.

Both Tucker and Raulston started the externship process utilizing the services, information, and resources provided by the law school's Externship Office. 

According to Tucker, the law school’s “great connection” with The Hague is something other students should explore. 

Raulston says that being a 1L is the perfect time to explore doing something that is both enjoyable and educational. 

“You have a lot of choices,” said Raulston.  “The Externship Office will help to place people where they want to go.”