I have now finished my internship and as I prepare for the next semester to begin wanted to take some time to reflect on the summer.

The most challenging aspect of my summer internship was, not surprisingly, working remotely. It was difficult to adjust to meeting on different time zones, but there were some unexpected adjustments. While I was originally assigned to work for the Phnom Penh office, I ended up receiving assignments from the headquarters in Geneva, as well as offices all around the world. For example, my first few weeks of work were dominated by preparations and execution of a conference for female defenders working throughout Africa. I also attended a panel discussion for defenders working in Myanmar. While I enjoyed gaining exposure to legal issues in so many parts of the work, I do think I missed out on acquiring an in-depth understanding of a legal system and contemporary issues in one country.

My most rewarding experience was attending and then writing a report on the panel held for defenders in Myanmar. The panel led me to research the international war on drugs and various policies and reforms enacted to combat the over-imprisonment of those charged with drug possession, among other issues. Attending the panel also led me to realize the critical role lawyers play, even when the society and legal framework they are operating in are in very precarious situations. Having good laws enacted is only a part of what is required in reform. Everyone responsible for applying those laws—police, prosecutors, judges—must be informed, and that often falls on defense lawyers as they advocate for their clients.

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to work with IBJ. When I started law school, I did not anticipate having a position so soon into my legal career that combined my experiences in Asia prior to law school with my career interests based on my first year of school. I have learned many lessons that I hope to take with me to future positions.