So, Why Am I In Kosovo Exactly?
Glad you asked. Law students are expected to take legal internships both summers during their 3 years of law school, and her I am already at summer number one! Finding employment your first summer can be mildly difficult, since most large firms are looking for 2Ls, i.e. they don’t want to train and pay a 1L who might go on to work for someone else after graduation; they want to wait until your second summer to initiate the “2L summer marriage relationship”. So, most 1Ls will intern in unpaid positions, either public interest, or with judges. Some will be lucky enough to be paid hourly working in-house counsel (Shout out to my bestie Haley @ Fedex!) or working for small or boutique firms.
The legal internship search is stressful and anxiety inducing, and my advice to all of you potential law school students is to breathe, get organized, and start applying early. It can be rough, but if you put in the effort you’ll find something. That’s what your career services office is there for. Anyways, I digress.
I was lucky enough to be connected with a potential position with USAID through my law school’s Center for International Legal Education. I am interested in practicing within the realm of international business law, and I had never been abroad before, so I thought I should talk to the CILE about potential internship opportunities outside the U.S.
So, I forwarded my application materials, was nominated by the CILE as an applicant to USAID, and had a Skype interview with the good folks at the Justice System Strengthening Program (JSSP) office here in Kosovo. I guess they liked me because here I am!
The JSSP office does exactly what it sounds like; it works on strengthening the effectiveness of the judiciary and the rule of law in Kosovo. Kosovo officially declared its independence from Serbia 10 years ago, and building up its court system has taken time and resources from both USAID and EULEX.
So what exactly am I doing here? Welp, I am working as a legal research intern for JSSP, and I am jump-starting their project on domestic violence. So, right now I am analyzing the legal framework relating to crimes involving domestic violence and relating to the economic rights of women that have an impact on the vulnerability of women and children. I’m also analyzing actual responses by the judiciary that affect women’s rights and the safety of women and children in order to identify options for improving the capacity of the judiciary to ensure the protection of women’s rights in Kosovo.
That was a mouthful. But, I’m very thankful to be here, and to be working on a project that is so meaningful. Like my girl Hillary said, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and anything I can do to promote this understanding is good work in my book. So I’m thankful to be doing good work.
My internship is split in half; I’m finishing up my second week right now, and I will be flying to Germany this weekend to participate in a 6 week international commercial law study abroad program. Then I will be headed back here to Kosovo for the last 6 weeks of summer in order to complete my internship.
So far, I have mostly spent my time familiarizing myself with the legal system of Kosovo, its Constitution, and the relevant laws, regulations, and stakeholders involved with cases of domestic violence. I must say it’s been a legal whirlwind. If you ever have some free time, you should check out the Kosovo Constitution. It’s actually extremely unique, much more progressive and rights inclusive than the U.S. Constitution, and is the only Constitution in the world to protect rights based on gender identity. Pretty cool stuff. I’ll explain more about the laws of Kosovo in another post, so keep a look out for that if it sparks your interest.
So these two weeks have been full of research and interviews with various stakeholders, and meeting with these people has truly been amazing. I’ve interviewed juvenile, criminal, and civil court judges, researchers for Kosovo’s Women’s Network, and the Captain of the Domestic Violence Investigative Unit of Kosovo. Most of these interviews were facilitated by a translator, and it has been a really unique and wonderful experience. Check out my #internationallyawkward post to read more about how it has also often been an awkward experience. (Totally because of me, I’m just freakin’ awkward and full of social anxiety.)
So, yeah. that’s where I’m at right now. Living life, gearing up for Germany, and working on my Albanian. Drop comments or questions below, and thanks for droppin’ by fam. ❤