August 14, 2012
A Resolution for the UN
How one human rights attorney found her role in international law
From the Summer 2012 issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin.
By her 2L year, Regina Fitzpatrick ’08 was dead set on working for the U.N. on a peacekeeping mission. She’d come to HLS with a master’s in human rights after a stint with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The U.N.’s “legitimacy and access to hot spots,” she says, made it her goal.
She is now working in Juba, South Sudan, living her dream.
Much credit, she says, goes to Alexa Shabecoff, head of the HLS Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising, who in fall 2010 called her attention to the U.N.’s National Competitive Recruitment Exam. “If you pass it and are placed in a post,” Fitzpatrick says, “you get a career contract, which is a bit like the Holy Grail within the U.N. system.”
At the time, she was in Sudan as the region prepared for the referendum on southern Sudan’s independence, which had been set in motion by a 2005 peace agreement to stop its civil war (one of Africa’s longest). Thanks to an HLS Human Rights Program Satter Fellowship (which Shabecoff had also alerted her to), Fitzpatrick worked for two NGOs providing legal analysis, first related to monitoring the referendum process, and then, after the vote in January 2011, focused on the transition to independence.
Fitzpatrick completed a comprehensive written exam and an oral exam and, 10 months later, learned that she’d passed the U.N.’s NCRE.
By then it was summer 2011 and South Sudan’s independence had just become official. Having relocated to Juba, the new country’s capital, Fitzpatrick began inquiring whether there might be a position for her in the brand-new U.N. peacekeeping mission. It turned out the lawyer in charge of setting up the rule of law component of the mission was also an HLS alum, David Marshall LL.M. ’02, whom Fitzpatrick had met during law school through her work with OPIA.
“He was a wonderful advocate,” she says. Within three weeks she had an offer.
She is now a judicial affairs officer in the Rule of Law and Security Institutions Support Office. As part of the mission’s mandate, her office focuses on helping the new state to develop the legal institutions to end prolonged, arbitrary detention. In South Sudan, a large number of detainees are held without charges, on remand pretrial or past the end of their sentences. Fitzpatrick has been working with government officials, judges and prosecutors as well as police and prison staff to assess the problem and work on recommendations for reforms.
In December and January, large-scale intertribal killings took place in South Sudan’s Jonglei State. Fitzpatrick has assisted the mission’s Human Rights Division, interviewing survivors to investigate the attacks. It’s part of her office’s efforts to advise the government on how to respond—work that is ongoing, she says, as the region is now engaged in a civilian disarmament campaign and local peace processes.
By midspring, incidents of cross-border violence had broken out between South Sudan and Sudan over oil-rich territory, and tensions continue to escalate. Fitzpatrick says the situation makes her office’s work more challenging, but its efforts continue.
After almost two years in the region, Fitzpatrick sometimes considers other hot spots she could work in, such as Libya and Syria. For her, these places don’t signify danger, but the potential to protect human rights and help countries rebuild—one of the best features of a career in the U.N., she says. “I’m excited about all of the possibilities.”
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
An Israeli fosters West Bank entrepreneurship
From the Winter 2012 issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin.
Daniel Doktori ’13 knew he wanted to work in the venture capital field during his first summer in law school; an interest in “emerging companies practice” had brought him to HLS. Thanks to a connection he made after consulting the alumni database HLS Connect, Doktori got both the exposure he was seeking and the opportunity to contribute to what he sees as a “visionary project.” After reaching out to Israeli venture capitalist Yadin Kaufmann ’84, he spent the summer in Israel and the West Bank working on the first fund aimed at investing exclusively in Palestinian high-tech startups.
Kaufmann opened Sadara Ventures with Saed Nashef, a Palestinian software entrepreneur, in April, after they raised $28.7 million from backers including Google, Cisco Systems, the European Union’s investment bank and George Soros. They expect to make their first investment before the end of the year.
Kaufmann says the idea for Sadara came to him as he got to know Palestinian entrepreneurs in the software industry. Their “creative energy, drive and entrepreneurship” impressed him and reminded him of what he’d seen in the Israeli entrepreneurial scene when he joined Israel’s first venture capital fund in 1987. In addition to a good investment, he recognized an opportunity that could have far-reaching repercussions.
“It’s a win-win,” he says. “I’m a believer that economic growth and prosperity and opportunity create hope and give people a stake in their future. As an Israeli living in the region, it’s in my interest that our neighbors have that kind of hope. So I think it’s good for Israelis, and it’s certainly good for Palestinians, to have a dynamic entrepreneurial sector that can help pull the whole economy forward.”
Doktori believes that Kaufmann and Nashef “are on the verge of something big” and says the internship was a fantastic experience. His involvement included a substantive analysis of Palestinian law affecting venture capital investment and a report recommending changes. He also helped to think about how to structure the companies once the investments were made.
In addition, he traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian entrepreneurs and sit in on their pitches to venture capitalists. “Just to see how one group of entrepreneurs did that was exciting,” he says.
Before coming to law school, Doktori headed the New York State Governor’s Task Force on Industry-Higher Education Partnerships, and drawing on his experience, he also worked with Birzeit University in Ramallah assisting efforts to promote entrepreneurship on campus.
Doktori had vacationed in Israel (his father is Israeli), but he had never visited the West Bank; in fact, his Israeli relatives had some trepidation about his doing so. But he was delighted by Ramallah, “a cosmopolitan city with a significantly educated population,” where he saw for himself a wealth of talent and opportunity in an untapped market, which he says is the basis for the new fund.
Kaufmann has high praise for Doktori, saying that his work will be part of a process of getting some important changes made over time: “You want to make sure the intern is having a good and meaningful experience also, and that requires investment. But Daniel took the initiative. … I think he’ll make a real contribution, maybe even to the development of the industry here [in the Middle East].”
Kaufmann says it was Harvard ties that first helped him to make his start in Israel. After he graduated from HLS, feeling the draw of Zionism, he wanted to go to Israel to see if he could “do something meaningful.” Professor Alan Dershowitz, he recalls, introduced him to Aharon Barak, then a justice on the Israeli Supreme Court, who offered him a clerkship.
Although at the time Kaufmann wasn’t sure it was a permanent move, he stayed on, and he agrees that Sadara Ventures is part of that meaningful work he was seeking.
“You can use your experiences to educate the next generation”
An HLS mentoring success story
From the Winter 2011 issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin.
A self-proclaimed “political junkie,” Bryson Morgan ’11 worked after college for the Utah Democratic Party and saw firsthand the influence special interest groups and lobbyists can have on the political process. In part, he came to HLS out of a desire to address the ethical issues that arise out of this influence.
At the end of his first semester, Morgan expressed his interest in ethics and working on Capitol Hill to Joan Ruttenberg at HLS’s Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising. Ruttenberg, who directs the Heyman Fellowship Program, which supports HLS students and graduates who want to pursue careers in federal government, put him in touch with Leo Wise ’03, a former Heyman Fellow who had just been selected to head the Office of Congressional Ethics in the U.S. House of Representatives and who was coming to campus to speak that very day. Wise and Morgan had an instant connection, and Morgan was offered a summer internship at the office, a position which was funded by the Heyman program.
“In my initial meeting with him … I realized Bryson was a remarkable person and lawyer,” Wise comments. “Over the summer, he immediately stepped into investigations. He was doing the same work our staff attorneys were doing.”
In Wise, Morgan found a mentor and role model. “Leo is always the first person I call to get advice,” he says. “He’s been a pleasure to work with and is someone I clicked with personally. He has this aura of honesty and integrity, and is a great example of the type of lawyer I’d like to be.”
For Wise—who announced in October he was joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland—his love of mentoring is a manifestation of his passion for public service: “Public service is so incredibly exciting and satisfying. You just want to talk to people about how important it is, encourage them and inspire them to pursue it. As a mentor, you can use your experiences to educate the next generation and connect them to your network.”
Whatever your field of practice, share your expertise and insight with students through HLS Connect.