AUSTIN, Texas — Four law students at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law were awarded prestigious clerkships with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica.
Mónica Jiménez, ’06, Lucas Lixinski, a Brazilian exchange student, Tanner Neidhardt, ’06, and Kassi Tallent, ’06, will be the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth UT Law students to intern at the Court since the Law School began sending students in 2002.
UT Law Professor Sarah Cleveland, who helps supervise the clerkship program, said the Court’s agreement to accept all four of the law school’s nominees is “extraordinary news, particularly given how few interns the court accepts, and how competitive the positions are.”
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica, was established by the Organization of American States in 1979 to hear human rights claims against member states, which include most Latin American countries.
The students will serve as law clerks this summer or fall, assisting the staff attorneys with research and drafting opinions for cases. UT law is one of the few schools in the country that has a formal clerkship program with the Court, which provides a rare opportunity for students to work for an international human rights adjudicative tribunal. The clerkship program is supported by a grant from the Cain Foundation.
Jiménez is pursuing a master’s degree in Latin American Studies at UT in addition to her law degree. She has worked at the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Political Asylum Project of Austin, where many of her clients were from Central America. Jiménez is a student in UT Law’s new Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, providing legal assistance to immigrant workers in Austin. As part of her clinic work, she’s also developing a code of corporate responsibility to improve working conditions in the production of fresh flowers imported from Latin America to the United States.
Lixinski is a Brazilian exchange student from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. He participated on Brazil’s team in the final rounds of the Jessup International Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C., last year, a team that ultimately placed 15th in the world. He has interned in the Brazilian Ministry of Justice’s consumer protection department in Brasília and participated in the Model United Nations.
Neidhardt worked in Colombia on a Fulbright grant before Law School. He later returned on a UT Fellowship to work with USAID to improve the Colombian legal system. Last summer, Neidhardt interned with the Supreme Court of Mexico and a federal judge on the U.S.-Mexico border. He is pursuing both his law degree and a master’s in Latin American Studies. Last year he was awarded a University Continuing Fellowship.
Tallent has done volunteer human rights work in Brazil, Ghana, Mexico, and the United States. She also spent a semester as an undergraduate at the Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico. As a student in the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, she traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, this spring on a human rights mission investigating working conditions in the Cambodian garment industry.
UT Law Professor Eden Harrington—who, along with professors Karen Engle and Patricia Hansen, will supervise the four interns—is setting up an online discussion group to enable the interns to communicate and share experiences.
Previous UT Law interns with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have included: Erica Schommer (2002), Patricia Tamashiro (2003), Yasmin Yavar (2003), Márcio Farias-Lobato (2004), and Támara Biolo-Soares (2004). Biolo-Soares was the first Brazilian ever to be offered a permanent position with the court.
UT Law currently runs six formal international internship programs, including internships with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Brazil summer internships, the European Court of Justice, and the Rapoport Summer fellowships.
International Internships at UT Law: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/international/intern.html
Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/humanrights/
Transnational Workers Rights Clinic: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/clinics/transnational/