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International Law

Deborah Lee ‘05

May 20, 2011

In 2002, Deborah Lee came to law school not exactly knowing what she wanted to do with her degree.  She had a passion for helping people, especially children, and hoped that as an attorney, she would be better equipped to do so.


During law school, Lee clerked with the Oregon Department of Justice’s family law section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office where she worked on cases involving sexual exploitation and luring of minors.  It was through these experiences that she developed her desire to become a prosecutor.


After graduation, Lee was hired by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, AZ, where she has worked as a prosecutor for the past five years in various divisions, including the Sex Crimes Bureau.   The work was challenging at times, but Lee says her faith carried her

through.  “I know that God put me here for a reason,” she says, quoting a verse from Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do good.  Seek justice.  Help the oppressed.  Defend the cause of orphans.  Fight for the rights of widows.”


In early 2011, Deborah will be doing just that—but many miles away, in Africa.


Recently, Lee was accepted as a Legal Fellow with International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights agency based in Washington, D.C.  Her year-long fellowship will be in Kigali, Rwanda, where she will be working as a consultant to IJM’s Rwanda field office handling cases of child sexual assault and gender-based violence.  IJM has 14 field offices in 10 different countries and seeks to fight injustice by rescuing and restoring victims of sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of violent oppression across the globe and by bringing their perpetrators to justice.


“I’m very excited,” says Lee.  “As much as I would like to think that I will be making a difference in the lives of Rwanda’s children, I’m fairly convinced of the opposite: that it is Rwanda and its children that will be making a difference in me….”