Nov. 22, 2019

4L student Alicia Martinez in Spain.
4L student Alicia Martinez in Spain.

4L evening student Alicia Martinez calls her decision to study abroad in Madrid this fall semester an excellent opportunity to “fill a hole in my legal education, and have an international adventure at the same time.”

“The program at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas has illuminated an entirely new set of careers that I hadn’t even considered,” Martinez said. “Aside from the challenging and engaging courses taught by incredible professors who are also some of the country’s top lawyers, we have also had the opportunity to visit major Spanish law firms and have informal conversations with senior partners and associates…I have an employment offer for after graduation and I am hoping to be able to steer my career towards working with international contracts.”

We spoke to Martinez about her participation in AUWCL’s Semester Exchange Program and her experience with the U.S Government Accountability Office.

Why did you decide to study abroad?
When I was deciding which law school to attend, I met up with a recent alum who had studied abroad three times while at AUWCL. He had a lot of great things to say about his study abroad opportunities and AUWCL’s internationally-minded curriculum. Even though I am not interested in practicing international law, I have always wanted to study abroad and did not get the chance to do so in undergrad. This semester was my last opportunity to do so, and I’m happy I took steps to make it possible.

What has been one of your favorite moments from your experience?
One of my favorite parts of our trip to Brussels and Luxembourg was meeting with the Spanish and American missions to the EU. We had the opportunity to talk to the Spanish ambassador to the EU and an American senior foreign service officer involved with economic sanctions. It was fascinating to ask them similar questions and hear different answers based either on the Spanish/European or the American perspective. This program has been an excellent way to learn how other national governments approach the same global issues that we are faced with.

Alicia Martinez

Over the summer, you worked at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). What was that experience like, and how do you feel AUWCL prepared you for it?
I was part of a class with seven other summer associates from other great law schools, and we got to rotate through two different teams within the Office of General Counsel. I rotated through the Homeland Security and Justice team and completed a substantive memo on border security that I then presented to the general counsel and to the audit team involved in an audit on that topic. I also rotated through the Procurement Law Division and had the opportunity to draft a bid protest decision with the help of my supervising attorney. Aside from the very engaging work, we also got to tour the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, White House and even spent an hour on the floor of the Senate Chambers. I was offered a permanent position after graduation, and I’m excited to go back and work in an office full of fun and dedicated lawyers.

I have AUWCL’s Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) and the on-campus interviewing (OCI) program to thank for my summer at the GAO. I used as many resources as I could get my hands on to prepare for OCIs and met with a career counselor to make sure all my materials were vetted and ready to go. I got a couple of interviews through our fall recruitment program and eventually got my offer from the GAO! It was a grueling process, but I felt supported by our career office.