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Experiential Learning Goes Global

Caitlin Lambert

From her first day as a student, Caitlin Lambert ’15 knew she wanted to kick-start a career in international human rights and international criminal law. Villanova Law’s comprehensive program not only prepared her for the global marketplace, but it also culminated in an exceptional hands-on learning experience. Lambert spent six months conducting legal research, drafting research memoranda and participating in hearings as an extern at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands.

The ICC is the world’s only permanent, treaty-based international criminal court. It tries individuals for the most serious crimes of international concern–war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. Lambert worked for Judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana, who sits on the Appeals Division and was the First Vice-President of the Court at the time of her externship.

“The best part about interning at the ICC was being at the forefront of international criminal law. During the six months I spent at the Court, I had the immense opportunity to work alongside lawyers at the top of the field and on some of the most pressing legal issues in international criminal law,” said Lambert. “For an aspiring human rights lawyer there is no better place to be.”

At Villanova Law, externship placements go beyond the typical non-profit organizations and government agencies to encompass opportunities at large law firms, multinational corporations—and now, international courts. Students can apply to work at one of more than 50 established and approved field placements - or propose their own, as Lambert did. As externs, students develop essential lawyering skills, exercise professional judgment, expand their networks and gain the practical experience that sets them apart in the job market.

Lambert was initially daunted by the ICC program’s competitive selection process, but confident in her experience and abilities, she decided to pursue the opportunity—something she advises for other students as well.

“I applied and had one of the most formative experiences of my time at Villanova,” Lambert said. “My advice is to put yourself out there and apply.”

Upon graduation, Lambert was hired as a legal officer for the Somaliland Justice Sector Project (SJSP), an organization that supports Somaliland’s formal justice institutions to provide a fair, efficient and effective justice system. Although based in Nairobi, Kenya, Lambert splits her time between Nairobi and Somaliland.

As a student, Lambert was an Associate Editor for the Villanova Law Review, a member of the Walter Lucas Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP) and the recipient of PIFP’s Cozen O’Connor Fellowship in 2014. In addition to her externship at the ICC, Lambert worked as a Legal and Policy Intern at the International Justice Project, a Research Assistant at Villanova Law and a Legal Intern at the Nationalities Service Center. 

To learn more about Villanova Law’s externship opportunities click here.