Winchester, VA| Vanderbilt University Law School
Laura is a rising second-year law student from Winchester, VA. This summer, Laura will be working for the Justice Defenders Program at the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights in Washington, DC. The program provides pro bono legal assistance to human rights advocates who suffer harassment in retaliation for their advocacy efforts. Laura’s work will support the program’s mission of advocating for fundamental rights, including access to justice, fair trial standards, and respect for freedom of association and expression. Prior to attending Vanderbilt Law School, Laura worked with members of underserved communities who were victims of financial crimes during her tenure at the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney’s Office.
Blog Post One:
I was thrilled to begin my internship with the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights because of my commitment to public interest work and my interest in expanding my understanding of international human rights issues. I had spent the first half of the summer studying a variety of international law topics through the Vanderbilt in Venice study abroad program, so I was also looking forward to applying the information I had learned in these courses to current issues.
On Monday, I had the privilege of visiting the Supreme Court with my fellow ABA interns. After an incredible tour of the Court, we were given special access to the Lawyers’ Lounge, where we had a question & answer session with Scott Harris, the 20th Clerk of the Supreme Court. He provided a fascinating insight into the Court, his career trajectory, and the camaraderie between the Justices. One of my favorite parts of the session was learning that Justice Ginsburg finds the “Notorious RBG” phenomenon amusing and that her grandchildren keep her in the loop regarding the latest social media posts by her fans.
Thus far, I’ve had the privilege of working with several of the attorneys on the team by researching fair trial issues affecting human rights defenders in an international context. Much of my research has focused on pre-trial detention issues, violations of the right to freedom of association and expression, and the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. I was excited to apply the knowledge I’d gained from the Vanderbilt in Venice program, particularly the applicability and content of treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which we had discussed extensively in Professor Newton’s Comparative Perspectives on Counterterrorism course. I also had the opportunity to work on a blog post analyzing possible judicial harassment of an environmental activist.
Another project I will be working on during my internship involves researching the prosecution of hate crimes in both the domestic and international context. I am particularly excited for this project because of my prior experience (and continued interest) in prosecutorial work and the opportunity to expand my knowledge of international criminal prosecution practices through comparative analysis.