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Anna Madrishin has done a lot in just a few years at New England Law | Boston: getting a Rappaport Fellowship, serving as a Legal Fellow for the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, and racking up tons of experience through clerkships and extracurricular organizations. But the most exciting opportunity so far might just be interning for the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Here, she shares her first-hand experience of what it’s like interning for the State Department, including the application process, her responsibilities, and how law school prepared her for the job.

During the fall semester of my 3L year, I had the unique opportunity to work at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., through the Center for International Law and Policy (CILP) legal externship program.

Each day was different, but regardless of what I was doing, the amount I learned and experienced from my fifteen weeks at the Department of State are invaluable.

The Application Process

I became interested in gaining legal work experience with human rights and international law after taking Business Compliance and Human Rights, then Public International Law, with Professor and CILP director Lisa Laplante. CILP offers several great externship opportunities, but for my interests and career path, I decided to apply for the Department of State externship in March of 2019.

I was fortunate enough to be offered an externship for the fall 2019 semester with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), but the application process and security clearance vetting were extensive.

The Department of State’s application is completely external from the law school, and many applicants from all stages of education and geographical location apply. After I submitted my application, I did not receive an offer, or even a response, until many months later. Likewise, after being chosen as an intern, I submitted my security clearance information in May and was not cleared for work until August, leaving me only few weeks to make housing arrangements.

However, all of the stress and unknowns were definitely worth it in the end.  

The Work of a State Department Legal Intern

I interned with DRL’s office of Multilateral and Global Affairs, specifically working with the Multilateral Team. When I started my internship in September, all efforts were focused on the seventy-fourth session of the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Issues (3C) of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Every intern at the State Department has a different experience depending on their bureau, office, supervisor, and tasks. I was tasked with drafting various interventions—short speeches read on behalf of the United States at the UN—on topics such as Freedom of Expression, Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Torture, and Transitional Justice and Reparations.

Following the interventions, I also worked on editing Resolutions for the United States to negotiate at the UN, such as Equal Pay, Social Inclusion and Diversity, Right to Development, and Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order.

After 3C ended, I finished my internship working on Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) for the United Nations Human Rights Council. Not only did I lead the development of the United States’ UPR webpage, but I also worked on other countries’ UPR clearances, which included interventions and advanced questions.

As evident from my different tasks, no day at the State Department was the same. Not only did I deliver different work products throughout the externship, but I also had the opportunity to attend events. These events ranged from escorting Girl Scouts around the building for International Day of the Girl to working the Warsaw Process: Promoting Peace and Security event. I also attended DRL events relating to businesses in Xinjiang, human rights in Iran, and Secretary Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights.

From Law School to DC

While I was not working in the legal department, being in law school did help me during the externship. Taking the Public International Law class provided me with the knowledge to understand the components and powers of the United Nations. I constantly applied my knowledge about international treaties, specifically the difference between treaty signatures and ratifications and the importance of reservations. I was able to understand the reasoning behind the legal team’s actions and explain it to colleagues if they asked.

It was great to be surrounded by so many people who attended law school but decided to pursue government work rather than become practicing attorneys. It was the first time I experienced first-hand alternative careers some lawyers pick and how their education helps them daily.

Being in the Federal Government

At first, I was anxious about working in international human rights, given current events.

The administration, regardless of party affiliation, impacts legal redlines and the overall goals of the United States—but the working goals of federal employees are consistent. Many of the individuals at the Department of State have worked there for more than twenty-five years, so their passion is unwavering. Compromising with political appointees and other government agencies, like USAID, is a fundamental component of working at the State Department.

Overall, I would highly recommend other law students apply for this externship. Interning with the legal department is a separate application, but I really enjoyed working with lawyers and non-lawyers, because each person offered different skills and solutions based on their background.

Based on my work with the U.S. Department of State, I feel confident I would be happy pursing human rights and public international law after law school.

Anna Madrishin is a member of New England Law | Boston’s Class of 2020.

Learn more about opportunities for law students at the U.S. Department of State, as well as other international law externships.

Upcoming Events

The Center for International Law and Policy hosts several events each year, including film screenings, speaker panels, and symposia (see examples below). Many are open to the public as well.


Join us in Spring 2024 for the next panel in the Transitional Justice in the USA Speaker Series.


For more information about CILP events, including submitting talk proposals, please contact center director Lisa Laplante.

Past Events

Guest Speakers and Panels

These events bring practitioners and academics working on important legal issues in international law to share their expertise with the New England Law | Boston community.


Regulate-Big-Tech-webVivek Krishnamurthy, The Quest to Regulate Big Tech: Privacy, Free Expression, and Competition: Vivek Krishnamurthy, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa, and Director, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, shared his insights regarding breaking up big tech companies to hold them liable for the content on their platforms and restrict their use of private data, particularly given the impact these companies have on the human rights of privacy and free expression.


supply-chains-modern-day-human-trafficking-posterSupply Chains and Modern Day Human Trafficking: This event featured Christina Bain, Director of the Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, who brings a wealth of experience studying human trafficking through the lens of business and how businesses use forced and trafficked labor. It is sure to be an enlightening and poignant discussion of the injustices behind some of the most common aspects of our consumer experience.


Transgender-Human-Rights-posterTaking a Closer Look at Transgender Human Rights: Panel featuring the following experts discussing the challenges the transgender community faces on a domestic and international scale: Kaden Mohamed, a member of the Steering Committee for the Massachusetts Transgender Coalition; William Berman, a clinical professor of law at Suffolk University; and Bruno Rodriguez Reveggino, a Peruvian international lawyer and former advisor to the president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Sponsored by the school's Center for International Law and Policy, the International Law Society, and OUTLaws, as well as the Boston Coalition for the Inter-American Human Rights System.


Matt-Gold-posterTrump’s Trade Wars: Are They Winnable? The United States’ trade agreements make up a whopping 90 percent of all public international law. What do these global trade agreements accomplish—and what’s going to happen now that the Trump administration is implementing radical new tariffs and other policy change? Professor of international trade law, former White House trade official, and New England Law alumnus Matt Gold  addressed these issues and more in this talk, co-sponsored by New England Law’s Center for International Law and Policy, Center for Business Law, and Office of Development and Alumni Relations.



Lorianne Updike Toler, Constitution-Writing at Home and Abroad: Constitutional legal historian and President of Libertas Constitutional Consulting, Toler shared her years of research studying the process of constitution writing.




Colombia-Expert-Meeting-posterWhat’s Business Got to Do with It? Peacebuilding in Colombia: Luis Fernando Angulo, executive director of El Centro Regional de Empresas y Emprendimientos Responsables (CILP’s partner organization in Colombia), and German Zamara, senior research director with CREER, provided an insider’s view of Colombia’s recent peace agreement and how the government has been seeking to involve the private sector in the peace process it spearheaded.



Viviana-PosterViviana Krsticevic, Assessing the Impact of Human Rights Litigation in the Americas: Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law, Krsticevic has been a human rights litigator in the Inter-American Human Rights System for over two decades, and CEJIL is one of the leading non-governmental groups to bring cases to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. She shared some of her first-hand accounts of litigating in a regional human rights system while also offering her assessment of the direct impact of this work.

Combating Corruption in a New Global Reality: This panel discussed recent developments in the field of international corruption law. It featured Anthony Mirenda, Partner, Foley Hoag; Michael Granne, Associate, Zuber Lawler & Del Duca; and John Sherman, General Counsel, Shift. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.


Zhiyuan Guo: CILP collaborated with Center for Law and Social Responsibility to host this prominent Fulbright scholar and professor at China University of Political Science and Law. This daylong visit included activities for faculty and students and aimed to build our institutional relationship with a major Chinese law school.

Human Rights Day: A Poignant Discussion on Female Genital Mutilation: This panel featured alumna Katie Cintolo and New England Law Professor Dina Haynes, who had recently testified on Beacon Hill about a new bill on FGM.


Hon. Ganna Yudkivska, The Impact of the European Human Rights System on Democratization in Eastern Europe: Judge Yudkivska, who sits on the European Court of Human Rights, shared some of the recent developments of the rulings of the international human rights court in Europe. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

Human Rights and Corporate Liability: What You Need to Know: This panel shared useful knowledge regarding the evolving international legal and policy framework that may impact how legal practitioners work with corporations of all sizes. Panelists included John Sherman, general counsel and senior advisor, Shift; Tyler Giannini, clinical professor of law and co-director, Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program and the International Human Rights Clinic; and Amanda Werner, legal and policy fellow, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

Justice Defenders: Who Defends Those Who Defend Human Rights? This panel highlighted the work of lawyers working to protect and defend human rights advocates. Panelists included Priscila Rodriguez Bribiesca, founder and legal director, Mexican-U.S. NGO Strategic Defense and Communication for Change (SAKBE), and Fergal Gaynor, counsel for victims in an ICC case, Prosecutor v. Uhuru Kenyatta.

Dustin Lewis, Anti-Corruption and Counterterrorism Measures: An Overview for NGOs and Corporations Operating in Insecure Environments: Lewis, a senior researcher at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, explored the issues and concerns that arise for NGOs and corporations operating in armed conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies such as what due diligence and risk mitigation would entail for organizations working in relation to Syria or Somalia. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.


Terrorism and the Material Support Statute: A Panel Discussion on the First Circuit’s Decision in United States v. Mehanna and Related Issues: The panel explored the various issues and debates stemming from the First Circuit’s decision in November 2013 in which the Court affirmed the conviction of Tarek Mehanna, a 30-year old pharmacist from Sudbury, Massachusetts, for material support for terrorism. Panelists included Professor Andrew March, Yale Law School; Professor Peter Margulies, Roger Williams School of Law; and Sabin Willett, Bingham McCutchen LLP. Boston Bar Association co-sponsored.

International Disability Law: Opening Doors for Access and Inclusion: This event featured both out of state and local speakers discussing the effectiveness of international conventions regulating disability law, and identify the next steps in addressing the needs of the international disabled population. Speakers included Daniela Caruso, Professor of Law, Boston University; Eric Mathews, Advocacy Associate, Disability Rights International; and Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director, Disability Rights Advocacy Fund & Disability Rights Fund.


Julia Rogers, One Seed at a Time: The United Nations, Food Security, and Development: As a legal consultant with the United Nations and other international organizations, Ms. Rogers advises developing countries on legislative reforms to strengthen their agriculture sector and promote food security. Her work has taken her to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, East Timor, Angola, and Tanzania to hold in-depth dialogues with key stakeholders–from government officials to farmers associations. She provided her personal reflections on the challenges of engaging in legal work to support countries on the path to development.

Human Rights Film Screenings

Documentaries help to highlight and bring to life pressing international issues which otherwise often seem remote and abstract. Each fall semester, the law school and CILP organize a film screening to foster dialogue and raise awareness of pressing human rights concerns. These events often include a panel or guest lecture.


Trials-of-Spring-posterThe Trials of Spring: Center for International Law and Policy hosted a private screening of Fork Films’ The Trials of Spring, featuring special guests Hend Nafea and Marie O’Reilly. Hend is the subject of the film, which follows the immediate aftermath of the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, specifically her story as an activist and protester who was sexually assaulted by the Egyptian military for speaking out against sexual and physical violence towards women. Hend challenged being sexually assaulted during her fight for democracy, helping expose how systematic sexual violence became a tactic of repressing legitimate protest. O’Reilly is a writer, researcher, and film producer exploring the nexus of gender, peace, and security. Both Hend and O’Reilly spoke to attendees following the screening.


The-Uncondemned-posterThe Uncondemned: Making its first public screening in Boston, this documentary tells the story about the litigation strategy devised by a young group of lawyers working for the International Tribunal for Rwanda to prosecute the crime of rape as a part of an overall charge of genocide—the Akayesu case was the first of its kind. Filmmaker Michele Mitchell then gave remarks and answered questions after the film. Community partners included Komera, Peace is Loud, and the MaranyundoInitiative.


the-man-who-mends-women-posterThe Man Who Mends Women: This International Women’s Day film screening featured a documentary about Dr. Denis Mukwege, renowned doctor and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who dedicated his life to repairing the bodies of women who were raped during the 20 years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This event was organized in collaboration with United Nations Association of Greater Boston's Global Women's Circle and Harvard School of Public Health.


price-we-pay-posterThe Price We Pay: This award-winning Canadian documentary revealed how large corporations use tax havens to escape paying taxes. We also featured guest speaker Gillian Caldwell, CEO of Global Witness, one of the organizations that helped to uncover the Panama Papers, which helped to reveal the vast corruption with secret tax havens. The film was screened during an event titled Shady Business: The Offshore Industry of Tax Havens, Shell Companies, and Crime.


First Light: This film provided an overview of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the first such body for Native Americans in the United States. The TRC uncovered the discrimination experienced by the Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine child welfare system. The film’s director, Adam Mazo, and activists featured in the work joined us for a panel discussion after the screening.


Co-Exist. This film was screened during an event entitled Healing After Genocide: Stories from Rwanda, which was in recognition of the 20 years that had passed since the genocide in Rwanda. The documentary is about the difficult healing process after the genocide. The law school and CILP were fortunate to be able to organize the event in coordination with the NGO Coexist Learning Project. One of the activists featured in the film, Solange Nyirasafari, traveled from Rwanda to join us.


granito-posterGranito: How to Nail a Dictator. This film provides a captivating tale of how a small international legal team managed to bring former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt to justice. During his brief leadership in the early 1980s, General Ríos Montt orchestrated a brutal government policy that led to the massacre of many Mayan villages. The film is produced by Pamela Yates whose 1983 film When the Mountains Tremble helped inform the world of this horrific tragedy. This film is her latest documentary and narrates how she was approached to be a witness against the General and how her incriminating footage from her earlier film became critical to the litigation strategy.