Getting in the swing of things -

So it’s been a couple weeks in the office, and things have started falling into place here at NCSC International. Most importantly: in searching around the area, there's a cute little ice cream shop just down the street that I'll be going to often. As for real work - 

Recent projects have been a little all over the place. Since we’re back in DC and not out in the field, much of what we do spans several different regions and subjects, so I feel like I’m doing a tiny bit of a whole lot of things (which I think is by design actually, the attorneys here have made a great point to pull us into various projects so we’ll get broad experience instead of focusing in on one task or subject only.)

One project I’ve been working has been to pull together a registry of where NCSC has registered as a foreign company overseas in areas in which it has ongoing projects. It’s been a bit of a wild goose chase to track down not only the proper procedure and forms for registration and renewal, but also the source law governing foreign company practices. Special shout-out to the WM law library – there is no way that I’d have been able to work on this project efficiently had it not been for the international law resources and some of the administrative law searching techniques the librarians went over with us 1Ls.  

Related - it’s insane how much you can learn from Google Translate, that simply wouldn’t have been accessible just a few years ago. I was able to track down the proper laws of Bangladesh by figuring out keywords and searching in Bengali instead of English. I can’t even comprehend how international law research would have worked before the internet came to town. (Thanks Al Gore!) It’s interesting to see how easily accessible (or not) laws are in various countries – some have put up streamlined, easy to browse, easy to search systems in which one can pick through the country’s official gazette for information on legislation – and others are not nearly as organized in how information is presented, if it’s able to be found online at all. But makes sense, I think some US and state law comes across as daunting, disjointed, and unclear to much of the American populace (myself included.)

A project that has proven really interesting, though not for its international law focus, is researching various judicial performance evaluation topics to support the Division’s Vice President’s trip to Abuja in July. The Nigerian Bar asked for a presentation on various US approaches to judicial accountability and performance management, so our VP has asked myself and Sarah to provide overviews of how various state models function (appointments, elections, or retention plans) in comparison to one another. Much of what I’ve found is focused on approaches to balancing judicial independence with accountability measures, and how to make sure that the processes and performance of judges is efficient while still being effective in allowing for impartial, fair decisions to be rendered—something which still needs calibrating here as well. 

Another component of NCSC’s internationally focused work is through its international visitors programs: individuals from all over the world come visit the US to learn about resources and discuss best practices or various approaches gleaned from knowledge of the federal and state courts systems. This week, a delegation of several judges from Macedonia sat in to learn about differentiated case management and discuss options and strategies for creating efficiencies in the system. The group highlighted the incredibly high number of cases that must go to trial, so it’s created issues with timely resolution. The judges also mentioned several reforms which have helped to take some burden off the judicial system – use of ADR, a move from investigative judges who were to determine facts to putting that burden elsewhere, issues with service, etc. The judges were quite engaged in soliciting ideas about case management recommendations, discussing how to change procedures, and managing the transition period that is created by doing so. It was interesting to see how some US lessons learned can be transitioned to another culture’s system.

Next week is shaping up to be pretty busy - we’re supposed to start helping with project management/proposal writing for a few Caribbean projects and start researching some regulatory issues facing non-American lawyers who represent foreign or multinational entities and are looking to practice or provide counsel in the US. Til next time -