International Externships

Association of Defense Counsel, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ADC-ICTY) And Criminal Defense Section of the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (OKO)

 ** All International opportunities are posted on Symplicity. **

Coastal Law offers students an extraordinary opportunity to work as externs with defense counsel in the office of the Association of Defense Counsel practicing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ADC-ICTY) and the Criminal Defense Section of the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (OKO). This externship is an unparalleled opportunity to gain experience in working on international high profile cases, dealing with multiple national legal systems, and developing expertise in the field of international criminal law at tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial in accordance with international standards is essential to the rule of law. A fundamental component of a fair trial is the principle of “equality of arms” (See Art. 14(1) of the ICCPR). The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has held that equality of arms does not necessarily require equality of means and resources between the prosecution and defense but it does mean that both parties are entitled to equality of treatment so that the conditions of trial do not put the accused at an unfair disadvantage. In light of the significant international resources put at the disposal of the prosecution, Coastal seeks to help correct this imbalance by providing free legal assistance to defense counsel through the International Criminal Law Externship Program.

Coastal’s International Criminal Law Externship offers students the opportunity to learn and develop the art of lawyering by teaching skills, values, multicultural functionality and substantive law by engaging students with the intellectual, pragmatic, ethical, and personal issues that arise in the practice of international criminal law. More specifically, students enrolled in Coastal’s International Criminal Law Externship Program may improve their ability to perform thorough and competent legal research, write persuasive, well organized briefs and pleadings or opinions and keep complete and organized files. Consistent with professional responsibility externs may learn how to identify and investigate facts needed to evaluate or support a legal position, understand decision making by judicial or administrative authorities and apply an area of substantive law to actual cases.

Externs will learn the importance of ethical issues such as client confidentiality in all of their work as they help counsel prepare for depositions, client counseling, negotiations, and presenting evidence and arguments in court.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was created by a United Nations security counsel resolution to prosecute those persons responsible for the most serious violations of international humanitarian law in the Former Yugoslavia since 1991. It is an ad hoc tribunal with a time limited existence. The Association of Defense Counsel (ADC) is an organization of lawyers admitted to represent the accused before the Tribunal. Lawyers with the ADC are representative of a multitude of nationalities and legal systems, and include lawyers from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Holland, Canada, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany and Australia.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a domestic court of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) which includes international judges and prosecutors. It was established on 3 July 2002 by the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Law on the Court of BiH and promulgated on 12 November 2000 by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is based in Sarajevo, was created to handle cases involving terrorism, war crimes, human trafficking, and organized and economic crimes. The vast majority of war crimes committed in the territory of BIH since 1991 are and will be tried at the Court of BiH. Professor Knechtle estimates that as of the end of 2011, it will take seven years for the backlog of cases to be tried at the court.

The Court is a judicial body which does not have a time-limited mandate. The Court of BiH hands down verdicts in accordance with the laws of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as the BiH Criminal Code and the BiH Criminal Procedure Code. Besides the fact that the international judges and prosecutors work at the Court of BiH and the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, the key functions are held by the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Trials are conducted in one of the official languages of BiH in accordance with the national laws, while the convicted persons serve their time in prisons in BiH.

The Criminal Defense Support Section of the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is generally known by its Bosnian acronym OKO (Odsjek Krivicne Odbrane), was created to provide legal assistance to war crimes defendants in an effort to ensure equality of arms. Located in Sarajevo, Bosnia the OKO provides assistance directly to defendants (e.g. how to select a defense counsel) and provides legal and administrative support to defense counsel. The OKO is also the licensing authority for attorneys who wish to appear before the Court of BiH. The OKO creates the qualifying criteria for appearing before the Court of BiH and maintains the list of qualified defense counsel. It also trains defense attorneys so they can qualify for the list.

Externs perform such tasks as legal research, cataloguing exhibits, summarizing depositions, writing internal memoranda, motion writing and writing pre- and post-trial briefs. The externship provides students with the opportunity to gain experience in the field of international criminal law, a field which is very difficult to enter. Nonetheless five Coastal students over the five years the externship program has been in existence (’07 – ’11), have received jobs at the ICTY.

This internship is organized to allow Coastal Law students to work for the fall or spring semesters or summer at the ICTY in The Hague, Netherlands. According to the Student Handbook, students who participate fulltime during the fall or spring semester in the international criminal law externship may apply up to 15 non-course credit hours toward the total number of credits required to graduate (as opposed to the 12 non-course credit hour limit for other students). Students are selected from a range of criteria including prerequisite courses, prior work experience, and G.P.A. (minimum G.P.A. is 2.75).

Once the interns arrive at either the ICTY or the Court of BiH, they report to the Head of Office of the ADC or OKO where they receive an orientation to the tribunal, which includes such administrative details as obtaining a photo I.D. so the students can enter the court without being escorted around the building. Students will then meet with their assigned defense lawyer and his or her defense team. Students will work between 40–50 hours a week for eight weeks during the summer (receiving up to 8 credit hours) and thirteen weeks during the fall or spring semesters (receiving up to 12 credit hours). Periodically but no more than once a year, Professor Knechtle will visit the student(s) to review their work and working relationship with the defense team, and provide whatever helpful feedback is necessary to ensure a successful educational and practical legal experience.

For the classroom component of the externship, students must attend an orientation at Coastal with Professor Chris Roderer and then attend lectures (four for summer interns and six for fall and spring semester interns) on some aspect of international criminal law (ex: Joint Criminal Enterprise, (in)equality of arms, etc.) taught by defense counsel, prosecutors, judges, law professors, or practitioners in the field of international criminal law. Externs will keep a daily log of their work and hours as well as a reflection on their work performed. They submit this weekly to Professor Chris Roderer. Students must participate in a de-briefing with Professor Chris Roderer upon their return to Coastal.

So that students are prepared to both provide the assistance demanded by this internship as well as learn the most from the program, Coastal will select students who have as strong a base as possible in the area of international and criminal law. It is strongly recommended that applicants have taken International Law, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure (and preferably International Criminal Law, comparative law and evidence) and received a Grade of “B” or higher in LP I and II. Applicants must have no less than 58 credit hours and a minimum G.P.A. of 2.75. Applicants who can demonstrate his or her interest in international law through overseas work or study experience, other degrees or coursework (in law school as well as other graduate and undergraduate schools), experience living or traveling overseas (i.e. foreign language abilities), and involvement in organizations with an international or comparative focus will be given priority.