Week 7: Past the Half-Way Mark

          I officially passed the half way mark for my internship at the start of this week.  It does not seem possible that I have been in Geneva for seven weeks.  These weeks have gone by so fast and as the end of my internship is rapidly approaching, I can already see how valuable this experience has been.  Both the work experience and the experience of being thrown head first into a foreign country with little information of what to expect, have definitely had a profound effect on me.  I have no doubt that this experience will stay with me for the rest of my life and will help me prepare for whatever is to come.

          Throughout this week I finished the application to the UNVFVT for Burundi which turned out to be a twenty page document that included everything from a basic description of IBJ to a detailed listing of the exact number of people that IBJ planned to help, including a breakdown of age and gender.  After finishing the budget and organizing some of IBJ’s success stories from Burundi in the last year, all that is left to do now is wait for IBJ’s country program director in Burundi to provide us with four more case studies to include in the application.  Well, there is one other thing, but we have little control over it.  Just like we had to wait for the UN to process our registration, we now have to wait again for the UN to accept our proposed project title and description.  It has been almost three weeks since I submitted this information and still no response or any hint of movement.  For an emergency funding grant, I do not detect any sense of urgency from the UN.  Hopefully, by the time we receive the case studies, the UN will have responded but I am not optimistic.

          On Tuesday this week, Sanjee, the International Program Director, asked me to join him during a skype call to a gentleman from India.  This person was from the Kalinga-Kusum Foundation and IBJ is seeking to partner with his organization and the Indian government to help implement a new initiative announced last year.  The Odisha State Law Ministry wants to install a new legal aid center in every Panchayat in Odisha, an ambitious goal that will need support not only from those within India but also international organizations.  My job was to write a concept note for Sujeet that explained what IBJ could add to the project.  After talking with Sanjee about this, we decided to propose a plan that involved a package of different successful programs that IBJ implemented in the past.  These programs included developing both physical and electronic training materials and defense manuals, translating IBJ’s documents from English to the local language of Odia, and training and providing a group of five to ten people to monitor the legal aid centers and train others to do the same.  After working on this project throughout the week I submitted the finished copy to Sanjee and he is going to send it to Sujeet.

          The last major project I worked on this week was an application to the Clifford Chance Foundation for an opportunity to receive $50,000 and 500 pro bono hours from the volunteers at the foundation.  This application was for the whole of IBJ rather than a specific country program and it included both legal and non-legal work.  In the end, we decided that the money and hours would be dispersed between all of IBJ’s programs with a focus on developing IBJ’s online resources including Lawyer Hub.  Lawyer Hub is a platform that brings together law firms, law schools, judges, and lawyers for the purpose of combining and cataloguing useful experiences and best practices for the use of lawyers all across the world.  We requested that Clifford Chance help IBJ develop training modules for lawyers and provide its own lawyers for IBJ sponsored training events that would be held in the six countries that IBJ operates in.  If IBJ is fortunate enough to receive this award from Clifford Chance, it could result in the advancement of IBJ’s technology platforms which would, in turn, help thousands of lawyers around the world gain access to much needed information and training tools.