Law students, alumnus gain international experience

Five Wayne State University Law School students and one alumnus earned fellowships or internships to study, gain experience and advocate for human rights this summer.

Their work is sponsored by the law school’s Program for International Legal Studies.

The 2015 fellowship and internship winners and their organizations are:

• Laura Barrera of Detroit, rising third-year student – International Public Interest Law Fellowship to work on refugee issues for Human Rights First in Washington, D.C.

• Sarah Cravens of Ypsilanti, rising second-year student – International Public Interest Law Fellowship to work with Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia, a nonprofit in Mexico City offering help to victims of crime and working to promote the development of crime prevention programs.

• Joanna Harr of Grosse Pointe Park, rising second-year student – Internship to work in Mexico City at the law firm of Hogan Lovells, formerly Barrera Sequiros y Torres Landa.

• Tyler Kemper of Detroit, rising third-year student – Internship to work in the General Counsel’s Office at Tata Motors in Mumbai, India.

• George Ligori of Detroit, Wayne Law class of 2012 – Internship to work in the General Counsel’s Office at Tata Motors.

• Alison Mueller of Detroit, rising third-year student – Freeman Fellowship to study for three weeks at The Hague Academy of International Law in The Netherlands.

“I hope to gain insight into working in the field of human rights that will help me decide if this is the field I want to pursue as a career, and to gain practical professional skills that will prepare me to work as a lawyer in the near future, “ Barrera said. “I know that I want to work with underserved and marginalized communities. At this point, I think I have my goals narrowed down to either working in immigration and refugee law or in criminal defense. Further down the road, I would like to get involved in policy work.”

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in philosophy and French language and literature. She served as president of the Hispanic Law Students Association at Wayne Law and worked in the law school’s Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.

Said Cravens: “My job here mostly consists of research, but I’ve been able to do some cool things like attend a meeting with one of the Mexican Supreme Court justices, visit a client and government-run psychiatric facility and appear briefly in a documentary that a production company is making about this organization and couple of others. An experience like this is invaluable. I love traveling in general and experiencing different cultures. I do not have a specific career goal at this point, but I will probably end up practicing in either public interest, immigration or business law.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, speaks fluent Spanish and is active with the Jessup International Law Moot Court team at Wayne Law, as well as with the International Law Students Association and Women’s Law Caucus.

Harr also said her internship is helping her figure out her preferences and skills.

“In addition to the exciting travel opportunity, through working at a law firm here I have been learning about the differences between U.S. and Mexican law,” she said.

“That knowledge gives me context and helps my understanding of other possible systems of law and why the United States does things the way we do. Being here helps me gain an appreciation for both the Mexican culture and the U.S. culture in juxtaposition.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Michigan and served as a research assistant for Professor Gregory Fox, director of Wayne Law’s Program for International Legal Studies, last summer. She is active with the Business Law Society at Wayne Law and with the law school’s mock trial program.

Through his internship, Kemper said he hopes to gain a global perspective on the legal profession as well as the in-house corporate counsel setting.

“While I have previously visited 20 countries across the world, I had never been to India,” he said. “This is not my first experience living and working abroad, and I feel like I have developed a skillset of adapting to a foreign environment quickly. After working for an international automotive company listed on the NYSE, I feel that there is no better legal market to return to than Detroit, the Motor City, situated on an international border. My ultimate career goal is to eventually be an in-house counsel where I will be able to work across many areas of corporate law.”

Kemper earned a master of business administration degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Siena Heights University.

Ligori, who will wind up his work later this month, attended the Global School of Law at the Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Lisbon, Portugal, after graduation from Wayne Law and earned a master of laws degree in international business law. He speaks six languages and has a master’s degree in world politics from Wayne State.

After gaining his LL.M., he worked for six months as a juris consultant (trainee lawyer) with international law firm Miranda Correia Amendoeira and Associados in Lisbon then returned to Detroit to serve as a tax law research assistant for Professor William Volz in Wayne State’s School of Business.

When he’s back from India, he’ll seek new legal experiences, he said.

“I am open to new opportunities — in-house, law firms, business ventures — including going solo,” he said.

“I have learned a lot about India’s business culture, had conversations with as many people as I could from all walks of life, learned a lot about the automotive industry, enhanced my legal professional skills and got connected with some outstanding people at Tata Motors.”

Mueller, who earned a master’s degree in accounting from Grand Valley State University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University, will study for three weeks in July at The Hague Academy. The Hague Academy is the academic wing of the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court.
Fox said studying at The Hague Academy is a relatively rare and valuable experience for an American law student.

“The classes are taught by the world’s leading international lawyers, and the students are mostly law Ph.D. candidates from Europe,” the professor said. “Not many Americans attend The Hague Academy. So, it is quite special that Wayne can send someone each year through the Freeman Fellowship.”

Mueller has been active with Wayne Law’s Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic.

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