Profile: An Extern in India
Each summer over one hundred Lewis & Clark law students complete externships in the U.S. and abroad. Here, we we ask Demi Jacques, who is beginning her second year of law school, a few questions about her experience working for the Human Rights Law Network in India this summer.
How did you learn of the externship program at the HRLN?
DJ: I was interested in international human rights work of some kind in order to put domestic work into context. I was told to go talk to Professor Bob Klonoff. He recommended HRLN to me and after looking at the website I knew it was an organization I’d love to extern for this summer (actually HRLN calls them interns). What HRLN does is so incredibly important, I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
What type of work did you do in your position and what responsibilities did you have?
DJ: I had a variety of responsibilities and tasks as an intern at HRLN. I was assigned to the Reproductive Rights Unit in Delhi. I did research, conducted fact-finding fieldwork investigations, edited petitions, wrote reports, transcribed testimony, wrote a few chapters in a book, and more. I also took a week-long trip to Jodhpur to investigate compliance with court orders in health facilities after a string of maternal deaths occurred a few years ago. My work felt like a good amount of responsibility but my supervisor and other HLRN employees were always there if I needed them.
What are the most significant or rewarding things you’ve been able to work on?
DJ: One of the most rewarding tasks I took up was actually one of the most mundane. Over the next few months, HRLN is undertaking a huge documentation project before going to court for the families of thousands of people who have disappeared in Punjab. When I needed a break from my work, I would transcribe some of the English testimony from the thousands of pages that need transcription before the case can be filed. When I turned that in, I knew I was documenting events and projecting voices that needed desperately to be heard. In work that is so often wrought with complicated nuance, it was nice to have something immediately to contribute to.
I was also proud of my work regarding the progress report in Jodhpur hospitals. I got a little sick during the week-long trip to Rajasthan and ended up working some of the time from the hotel instead of doing field work with my co-workers. Fortunately, that gave me time to look over the progress report and discover some pretty important issues that may not have otherwise been discovered.
Have you, or are you planning to, participate in any other externships or practical skills while in law school?
DJ: I’m definitely planning on getting more practical experience while in law school. Now that I’ve worked internationally, I’m probably going to pursue domestic human rights work during my 2L summer.
Read another externship profile of students who worked for HRLN in summer 2015.