Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Monday, June 29, 2009

Drug cartels, human traffickers, and pirates -- BEWARE!

Sarah Mielke, a rising 3L from Bismarck, ND, is interning with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria and Nairobi, Kenya.

I’ve spent the first 6 weeks of my summer working for the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. I work at UN City, which is a huge complex comprised of 6 office buildings, 4-5,000 people, and several UN office headquarters. I’ve been working in the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the Integrated Programming Unit (IPU).

UNODC is more or less in charge of coordinating the global effort to fight transnational organized crime – drug cartels, human traffickers, and pirates – beware! IPU is a small sub-office of 7 staff members that writes plans for how UNODC should respond to specific issues or regions.

Being in such a small office has allowed me to do lots of substantial work. Some of the topics on which I’ve worked include:
•    What the UN should do about Somali pirates,
•    How to fortify Central Africa against drug traffickers,
•    A guidance note to coordinate the global response to counterfeit medicine, and
•    The Pakistan saga.

Though my job here often does not focus on traditional law, legal style thinking has been invaluable. As things happen in the world, IPU must formulate an instantaneous response to the particular situation, while still maintaining cohesion with UNODC’s long-term vision and mandate. It’s definitely exciting to read something in the news, and the next day draft a document that says what the international community should do to help the situation.

The job here has been incredible, I must say that living in Vienna has lots of other perks. My first night in town, I saw a performance by one of the most famous opera singers in the world; the hotdogs on the street are even better than New York; and on weekends I’ve been able to visit Prague, Budapest, Paris, and Spain (and for less than the cost of a weekend trip from Lex to DC).

This will be my first and only posting from Vienna, as my time here is ending rather abruptly. The UNODC Counter Piracy Programme is getting underway and I’m moving to Nairobi, Kenya for the rest of the summer to help things get off the ground. More on that later, but for now, over and out from Vienna.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Celebrating a Legal Victory

Marti McCaleb, a rising 3L from Waco, Texas, is interning at Legal Voice in Seattle, Washington.

On May 18, 2009, Washington governor Christine Gregoire signed the "Everything But Marriage" bill into law, granting same-sex registered domestic partners all the same rights and responsibilities as married spouses.  As Representative Jamie Pederson, the bill's primary house sponsor, said "This law guarantees that when I leave this assembly, I will know that I have the right to visit my partner, Eric, in the hospital, where he had minor surgery this morning.  And when he leaves the hospital, I will know that I am responsible for the bills as well."

Five minutes into my first day interning at Legal Voice (and less than one week since I arrived in Seattle, and on the West Coast, for the very first time), my supervisor invited me to join our staff attorneys at the bill signing ceremony.  And I had a very important duty to fulfill—photographer.  Jamie and Eric brought their son, Tryg.  Tryg's kindergarten class came along for a field trip and most of them brought their parents as well.  Representatives from NOW, ERW and the ACLU attended.  So did religious leaders, city officials, friends and family, advocates and allies of the thousands of GLBT families across Washington State.  I met Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer, a local hero, who is the highest ranking military officer to acknowledge her homosexuality while in the service.  Legal Voice (then known as the Northwest Women's Law Center) helped take her case to the state supreme court, which found that the military's policy banning homosexuals was unconstitutional.  Col. Cammermeyer's successful challenge to the military policy, in part, led to the adoption of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy adopted during the Clinton administration.  Glenn Close plays Cammermeyer in the 1995 movie Serving in Silence. 

Outside of work, Seattle is an incredible place to spend a summer.  The weather is unseasonably warm (mid 70s) and dry for this time of year.  My random explorations have taken me for a ride to the top of the Space Needle,  a chic little jewelry artisan in Fremont Flea Market, a crêperie in Pike Place Market, a drag bar in Capitol Hill, a silent movie at the Paramount Theater, and to the Nordstrom flagship store.  Still on the to do list are:  a ferry to Vancouver, Mt Rainier, the Experience Music Project, Bumbershoot Music Festival, Seattle PRIDE parade, scalp tickets to a Seattle Sounders game, and, of course, a weekend trip hiking in the Cascades and a visit to Forks!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Meet the Bloggers


This summer, several Washington and Lee law students have agreed to write about their summer employment experiences. Below you can read about the contributors and the areas in which they are working. Please check back on Friday when we'll hear from Marti McCaleb, who is interning with Legal Voice in Seattle.

Lindsey Brown

Lindsey Brown is a rising 3L from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Before law school, she attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Last summer, she worked for the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria and developed a strong interest in criminal law.

She decided to spend this summer experiencing criminal law from a different perspective and is working for a private law firm's White Collar group in Washington, DC.

James Collins

James Collins graduated from DePaul University with a dual Bachelor of Science in E-Commerce Technology and Computer Graphics and Animation. He is a senior student editor for the German Law Journal and Conference Chair for the Federalist Society.

A member of the class of 2010, James is currently a legal intern with the Antitrust Section at the Ohio Attorney General's office.


Gene Hamilton

Gene Hamilton, from Grayson Georgia, graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in International Affairs. He is a member of the W&L Law Class of 2010, where he serves as a Burks Scholar and a Kirgis Fellow. Last summer, Gene worked for the Department of Homeland Security.

This summer Gene is working for the Air Force General Counsel's Office at the Pentagon. He will work directly with career government attorneys and military attorneys on a diverse array of legal issues including: acquisition law, fiscal law, ethics, environmental law, military personnel law, labor and employment law, intellectual property, alternative dispute resolution, and contractor responsibility matters.


Lindsay Hitz

A rising 2L, Lindsay Hitz hails from Hershey, PA and graduated in 2008 from Bucknell University.

This summer Lindsay is working with the Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) at NASA Langley Research Center. The Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars (LARSS) Program provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct research in a variety of fields that support NASA's mission. On a day to day basis, Lindsay will conduct legal research, attend meetings, and work closely with the attorneys at the Office of Chief Counsel.

In conjunction with the LARSS program, she will attend weekly lectures on science and technology and participate in other group activities with all program participants. The final component of the LARSS program will be the completion of a research project, which will examine a specific area of NASA legal practice.


Marti McCaleb

Marti McCaleb is a rising 3L from Waco, Texas. She earned her undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Alabama before choosing to attend Washington & Lee School of Law. Her primary interests are trade law, human rights, and labor regulations.

This summer she is interning at Legal Voice in Seattle, Washington. Legal Voice is an action-oriented, diverse organization dedicated to securing and protecting the rights of all women, through direct client services, legislation and litigation designed to have a far-reaching public impact, and by empowering women with knowledge about their legal rights.


Sarah Mielke

A member of the class of 2010, Sarah Mielke is a from Bismarck, ND and a graduate of Bethel College, where she majored in International Relations and Political Science.

Last summer, Sarah worked for a  federal judge in North Dakota, for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. working on international prisoner transfer, and also did part time research for a professor.

This summer Sarah will work at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna for the Office on Drugs and Crime writing programs to help coordinate the global effort to hunt drug cartels and human traffickers. She will also work at UN field office in Nairobi, Kenya to help start a UN program dealing with Somali pirates.


Kathy Pritts
Kathy Pritts is from Oakland, MD. In 2008, she graduated with honors from Cedarville University with a B.A. in International Studies. At Cedarville, she was active in student goverment on the Student Relations Committee and the Hispanic Affairs Committee, and was the secretary of PEACE (Promoting Ethnic And Cultural Education) Project. At W&L, Kathy is the treasurer of the Black Law Students Association.

This summer, Kathy is working with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), Inc., a non-profit law firm in Ohio, as a law clerk in the Migrant Farmworker program, which serves Spanish-speaking famworkers who have immigration, labor, and other civil legal issues.