Week 7 - The Final Stretch

      Moving into the home stretch of my internship at NCSC, I am realizing how quickly this whole experience has flown by. Bryony is leaving in two weeks and I am gone the week after that. After looking at all of the assignments that I have completed in these past seven weeks, I saw the diversity of the assignments and came to appreciate how valuable this internship has been. After graduation, I hope to move into the rule of law / human rights field.  Last summer I received first-hand experience in planning out and writing project proposals and this year my work focused on the project development side of things. My experiences during the last two summers gave me a well-rounded view of this field and I will always be grateful for this program for giving me this opportunity.

      My assignments this week were a mix of small tasks and larger projects.  To start, I will mention the small tasks. First, I used my experiences gained from the Environmental Law and Policy Review (ELPR) to do some cite checking for Judge Mize (the judge who invited Bryony and I to visit the D.C. Superior Court previously). After properly Blue Booking his paper, I also conducted some research for him by looking into reports by the Legal Services Board. My next small task involved writing up several short bios for judges that are going to be helping NCSC in the Caribbean. These bios were included in a technical proposal that the staff at NCSC sent out later in the week. Bryony and I were also tasked with proofing this technical proposal and offering feedback, a task which we finished on Friday right before we left for the weekend.

      Transitioning to the larger projects for the week, I mainly focused on two on-going assignments.  First was a task involving ethics and compliance within project development.  Several weeks ago, Bryony and I were asked to look up recent examples of ethics violations and prosecutions that focused around the grant writing process or the project implementation process. These cases mainly were supposed to focus on USAID and the Department of State. I had already compiled around eight possible cases but we had finally narrowed it down to five.  Bryony and I then focused on getting all of the information that we could involving these five examples.  After the research was finished, we created five briefs that outlined the facts of the case, the legal issue, the resolution, and any developments after the court decision. The cases ranged from bribery to fraud to conflict of interest. It was interesting to see the different levels of punishment that were handed down and it left me with an impression that there are few sentencing guidelines for these types of ethics violations. After finishing this project, I moved on to a larger project involving the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) which governs contracts between the executive agencies of the United States and other contracting parties. This assignment required us to craft a legal memo around a current contract dispute involving withholding fees after completion of a contract.  Bryony and I worked on parsing the very limited language present in FAR 52.216-8 and began brainstorming ideas on how to work these thoughts into a legal argument.  At the end of the week, we had a skeleton outline of our argument but we will work more on this project in the coming weeks.

      This weekend, I traveled to Great Falls Park which is located right on the border of Virginia and Maryland.  It was only about a 25 minute drive from where I am staying and it was well-worth the trip. After observing the falls from the observation decks I quickly headed toward the nearest hiking trail and proceeded to work my away along the river, stopping intermittently to take in the sights. It was a beautiful day and the park was not too busy when I was there so I largely had the hiking trails to myself. This short trip was a great way to relax and decompress after the work week and I am already looking forward to my trip next weekend to Skyline Drive and Mount Vernon where I will undoubtedly find more spectacular views.  Until next week.