PUBLISHED:August 15, 2012

Postcards From Practice: Summer 2012

For six weeks each summer, students in Duke Law’s JD/LLM program work overseas for a broad array of employers including international law firms, intergovernmental and nongovernmental (NGO) entities, and businesses. Many of these opportunities are arranged with the assistance from the Office of International Studies, which curates a pool of potential internships through long-standing partnerships with law firms, businesses, and international organizations employing Duke alumni and friends.

During the 2012 summer, 49 first and second year JD and JD/LLM students worked in 20 different countries. Representative employers included International Finance Corporation, International Food and Agriculture Organization, IBM, Coalition of the International Criminal Court, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Exchange and major U.S., Italian, Swiss, Japanese, Chilean and Chinese law firms.   

“Summer internship experience abroad can be incredibly valuable to students because it hones their legal skills while simultaneously immersing them in another legal culture,” said Oleg Kobelev, director of international career development. “With the increasing globalization and internationalization of legal practice, it becomes ever more critical for young lawyers to develop cross-cultural competencies that go well beyond language proficiency, allowing them to not only communicate with foreign clients but tailor their advice to account for the often-profound differences in approaching legal issues.”


"Erica Kassman '14My summer at Ritch Mueller in Mexico City was amazing. Spending time in a corporate Mexican law firm not only enabled me to gain experience with corporate work, but also afforded me the opportunity to take my Spanish to the next level. From day one, I was working on registering banks and writing joint venture agreements. I learned about Mexican tax law and about how to conduct a cross-border transaction involving a Canadian company. Since the firm did a high volume of work with US clients and banks I also worked on US legal issues and to help draft contracts in English. I was also able to work on a due diligence in both English and Spanish. My coworkers were extremely friendly and patient, taking the time to explain aspects of Mexican law. I had the opportunity to work directly with junior associates, senior associates as well as partners on a variety of projects independently or in teams and I felt as though I truly contributed to the projects. Overall, it was an amazing summer."

— Erica Kassman '14
attended the
Asia-America Institute in Transnational Law


"I spent the first seven weeks of my 1L summer in Cape Town, South Africa, working for the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, a non-profit NGO that aims to enhance transparency and accountability in the national government by monitoring and publishing Parliamentary committee meetings. I attended Parliamentary sessions twice a week, engaged with high-level politicians, and recorded policy debates on a variety of topics, including economic development, international trade, and future infrastructure projects. Given my goal of working for the federal government in international development, this internship offered me a unique opportunity to witness the law-making process of a newly emerging global power in its efforts to advance domestic and regional development. My Cape Town summer was undoubtedly one of the most valuable experiences of my life. Its indescribably beautiful landscapes are just the beginning. With a wide range of great restaurants, a riveting nightlife, and outdoor activities (hiking, shark-diving, safaris, etc.), it is impossible to be bored. Lastly, for those interested in culture, history and race relations, there is no better place to spend for a short summer. The still-fresh legacy of apartheid provides an eye-opening and enriching perspective, as well as a point of reference for comparison with related social issues back home."

— Elias Parisca ’14
attended the
Asia-America Institute in Transnational Law


Elias Parisca '14"Challenging cross-border work in a beautiful setting — Lac Léman a stone’s throw away and the Alps in the distance — I could not have imagined a better place to work during my 1L summer. I worked [at Lenz and Staehelin] on challenging assignments for venture-capital funds and biotech start-ups and researched difficult questions relating to the shifting global landscape of banking regulations. In a highly professional and welcoming environment I had the opportunity to further my career goal of working in a francophone environment while also gaining exposure to high-caliber work. Finally, working abroad in Switzerland’s largest law firm exposed me to another culture in a way that studying could not."

— Robin Powel ’14
attended the Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law


Ryan Kennedy '14"Duke Law School's Office of International Studies helped me place a foreign summer intern position at the international law firm Nishimura and Asahi's office in Tokyo. The program helped me do exactly what I was interested in doing my first summer, cross-border business transactions and contracts enforcement. I received close instruction from a team of the firm's partners and associates on my legal analysis and persuasive writing skills, and I networked with dozens of attorneys at Nishimura, as well as other international law firms with offices in North America and Europe. My summer experience in Tokyo was amazing, and I received the opportunity through Duke's J.D. / LL.M. program in International and Comparative Law."

— Ryan Kennedy ’14
attended the Asia-America Institute in Transnational Law