Introducing our incoming fall 2015 exchange students

Fall 2015 HLS exchange students

This fall, 10 students from law schools abroad are studying at HLS as part of exchange agreements.

We hope you’ll have a chance to meet these visiting students.

In this photo, left to right: Ann Kristin Glenster (University of Cambridge, U.K.), Joachim-Nicolas Herrera (Sciences Po, France), Jeanne-Rose Arn (University of Geneva, Switzerland), Crina Gealatu (Sciences Po, France), Margaux Marmy (University of Geneva, Switzerland), Michelle de Souza (Sydney Law School, Australia), Jiahui Quan (Renmin University, China).

Not pictured: Alessandra La Vaccara (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland), Soterios Loizou (University of Cambridge, U.K.), Emilija Marcinkeviciute (University of Cambridge, U.K.).

Where can study abroad take you? Visit the semester abroad pages in the International Legal Studies section of the HLS website, and watch the ILS Events page and this blog for postings about information sessions scheduled in September and later in the year.

Chayes Fellow Aditya Pai on working at the Sehgal Foundation in India

Aditya Pai '17 in the Mewat district, India.

Aditya Pai ’17 in the Mewat district, India.

I’ve recently completed my internship with the Sehgal Foundation (formerly known as the Institute for Rural Research and Development) in Gurgaon, India. My project was to analyze the effectiveness of the foundation’s legal literacy camps in the Mewat district of Haryana, through case studies. To do so, I interviewed attendees of 2014 Sehgal Foundation legal literacy camps in all five blocks of the rural Mewat district to find out what they learned at the camp, what action they took afterwards, and how (if at all) they ultimately benefited. I then spoke to attendees who were not able to secure the desired entitlement (e.g. old-age pension) even though they attended the camps. Next, I interviewed counsels and paralegal volunteers of the government legal aid centers. Finally, I interviewed members of the foundation’s field staff to gain further insights on the planning and implementation of legal literacy camps and the state of legal awareness in Mewat. All interviews were conducted in-person and in Hindi.

Aditya Pai '17 in the Mewat district, India.

By documenting both successes and setbacks, I tried to shed light on the ongoing process of improving legal literacy in Mewat. In particular, the important question was why some citizens who attend a legal literacy camp act on the information gained and secure a positive result, while others do not: what is the difference between the cases of success and the cases of ongoing setback? To explore this question, I wrote a final report and presentation in which I shared the case studies, suggested lessons learned, and applied those lessons to make recommendations for improving future legal literacy camps in Mewat.

 

Chayes Fellow Korey Silverman-Roati on working at the Center for Public Interest Law in Ghana

Korey Silverman-Roati '17 in Tarkwa, Ghana

Korey Silverman-Roati ’17 in Tarkwa, Ghana

My work in Accra started with a research project into international, regional, and local (Ghana) human rights issues in mining communities. I shadowed the work of one of CEPIL’s lawyers, and accompanied him to court as he litigated several cases, which included several wrongful terminations of employment and a land acquisition compensation case. Over the course of these court appearances I got to know several of the plaintiffs, discussed strategy with the CEPIL lawyer, and learned some of the challenges of litigating in Ghana.Korey Silverman-Roati in Ghana

I then began work on a research project in CEPIL’s case against the Ghana Gas Company. I researched cases in the U.S., and U.S. case law on adequate compensation, and traveled to the Western Region to view the case in court and get feedback from some of the plaintiffs.

I’ve also been gathering feedback from former recipients of CEPIL’s public interest work. This included a trip to Tarkwa, also in the Western Region, to four different mining communities for which CEPIL has provided pro bono litigation services.

Chayes Fellow Katie Braun on working at the Equal Education Law Centre in South Africa

Katie Braun '17 in Cape Town

Katie Braun ’17 in Cape Town

My main project at the Equal Education Law Centre is a memo about sexual offenses committed by educators in schools—a very sad but interesting and important topic. It can be frustrating, as some of the data I need about the implementation of various laws and policies just doesn’t exist, but it’s also exciting because there are real gaps in the law and administrative guidelines that I can explore. I also think that it’s good for me to get more comfortable with this kind of research, mixing the legal framework with information about how the laws actually operate throughout the country. I’ve circulated my final memo to the office, and recently gave a presentation to the attorneys on my findings.

I’ve also been working on other ongoing projects, such as checking provincial plans to see if they’re consistent with commitments made to specific communities. I also had a chance to attend and help out at the Equal Education National Congress. Equal Education is the broader social movement to which the Law Centre is attached, and this was their second conference after the first in 2012, with delegates from a number of provinces.

Equal Education National Congress

Equal Education National Congress

I also went with the attorneys to Du Noon, a township in Cape Town, to collect information from parents whose children have been illegally rejected from school. That was downright inspiring—a group of the parents have set up their own unofficial school to try to keep their children learning and safe. Hopefully we can help, too—the Centre is currently in contact with the Department of Education on their behalf.

For the last period of my stay, I am helping with the EELC shadow report on the Department of Basic Education’s 2015/16 annual performance plan and analysis of implementation plans for national norms and standards regarding school infrastructure that the provinces have recently released, partly in response to a previous EELC/EE campaign to get the national Department of Basic Education to promulgate these legally binding norms and standards.

Chayes Fellow Patricia Alejandro on working at Legal Resources Centre in South Africa

Patricia Alejandro '17 in Xolobeni, South Africa.

Patricia Alejandro ’17 in Xolobeni, South Africa.

Since my very first day I’ve been immersed in interesting and varied work. The South African constitution is very much a living document, allowing international law to be used as an aspiring standard. It also creates a range of socioeconomic rights, seeking to correct decades of inequality under apartheid.

Our office focuses mostly on education. In this area of the country, schools are falling apart, supplies and furniture are lacking, education quality is low, many teachers are absent from the classroom, and children often walk hours and many kilometers each day to get to school. The constitution enshrines the right to education, but that right is jeopardized without access to these basic elements.

I have been working on issues of providing students with transport to school and proper sanitation facilities. I researched international law for an upcoming court hearing on student transport and made an advocacy video using photos and videos of students walking to school. We received the judgment and order last week from the case; the judge has ordered that transportation be provided for many of those students. I am now in the process of calling other schools that have transport and toilet issues so that we can build upon that judgment and provide for these students.

Part of the experience has been to rejoice in the good, like the court’s order, while facing the emotional challenges of this work. Soon after the hearing we received word that one of the children who walks to one of the schools we represented had been raped during her commute. She had not been included on our case because she walked less than the distance required by the government for transport (5 kilometers each way). I wrote a memo to the police, calling on them to provide security for the students who walk on dangerous roads, so that the school community could use it to request protection.

During my last week, we will be traveling to interview a rural community embattled against a mining company that wants to work on their land. On the way back, we plan to visit some of the schools we represent and to assess whether the government has made any progress in improving their conditions.

I wish I could stay longer than two months. I am doing substantial legal work and am constantly exposed to a range of social issues.