|Student Intern: Axel Hufford '16|
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affair
How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The Office of International Affairs at the Department of Justice acts as a liaison and gatekeeper between the U.S. government and any international Ministry of Justice. In particular, it maintains all bilateral treaties between the U.S. and other states regarding mutual legal assistance and extradition, and it is the chief organizing body in the U.S. for all international legal coordination within criminal law.
What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
At the Office of International Affairs, my regional team maintains the legal relationship between the U.S. and over 100 foreign states, including all of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In particular, I am responsible for drafting correspondence between my office and their foreign counterparts as well as between my office and our corresponding bodies (including the FBI and U.S. Attorneys Offices). So far, I have played a large role in updating the pending case files between my office and Turkey, India, South Africa, and Japan.
How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
On the first day of my internship, I realized that despite our work in international law, national sovereignty is of critical importance. Though the U.S. signs binding treaties with many other states in mutual legal assistance and extradition matters, either country can withdraw from those treaties if they desire, so my office constantly works to maintain relations so that productive work and engagement can continue without the compulsion of an international body or higher law.
What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
A few weeks ago I joined a video teleconference between the attorneys in my office and our Indian counterparts to discuss ongoing cases between the United States and India. Just this morning I met a few Indian attorneys who are visiting our office this week to meet in person and ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding both U.S. and India cases. Seeing such coordination in person -- between states with very different histories, legal systems, and cultural contexts -- was an extremely refreshing and rewarding experience.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Since our office works with so many countries, a huge variety of legal systems, and a spectrum of diplomatic relationships, it seems that our work with some countries seems more productive and efficient than with others. I wish there were more tangible ways for the U.S. to improve diplomatic relations with certain states so that we can accomplish more material objectives in legal cooperation and coordination.
Broadly speaking, what do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
By the end of my internship I hope to maintain lasting working relationships with every attorney, paralegal, and intern in my office, and I hope to have a better idea of my future career focus after I graduate from Dartmouth.
What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
I learned that it is important to find an apartment as soon as you can and to make sure that you do your homework when it comes to apartment locations, or else you might have a difficult off-term.