UVA Law Students, Alums to Serve as International and Human Rights Fellows

From left, Melissa Kathleen Reilly-Diakun, Erika Trujillo and Reedy Swanson are this year's Monroe Leigh Fellows.

From left, Melissa Kathleen Reilly-Diakun, Erika Trujillo and Reedy Swanson are this year's Monroe Leigh Fellows.

May 27, 2014

Several students and recent graduates of the University of Virginia School of Law received fellowships to work in prestigious international and human rights law settings this summer and in the coming year.

Orly Rachmilovitz, a 2012 S.J.D. graduate of the Law School, has received an Orrick International Law Fellowship and will serve as foreign clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, which is the highest tribunal in South Africa for constitutional cases, starting in July. The yearlong fellowship is sponsored by the international law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and includes an award of up to $55,000 to cover expenses.

Rachmilovitz, who is a member of the Israeli Bar and is finishing a two-year position teaching health law classes at Boston University, will clerk for Justice Johann van der Westhuizen.

Orly Rachmilovitz
Orly Rachmilovitz

"As a foreign clerk, I will most likely be tasked with foreign or international law research and writing," Rachmilovitz said. "I'm very excited to be able to bring both American and Israeli perspectives to the Court's work, which relies heavily on comparative and international materials."

Each term the court sponsors up to five foreign clerks, in addition to 20 South African clerks

Rachmilovitz said the fellowship will allow her to continue her work in social justice, which has included a 2008 fellowship at the UVA Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy and a 2010-11 visit with the UCLA Williams Institution on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy.

"I am thrilled about the opportunity to join this remarkably important court and to make a significant and immediate contribution to social and legal change in Africa's most constitutionally sophisticated country," she said.


Class of 1957 South Africa Summer Fellowship

Camila Rodriguez
Camila Rodriguez

Like Rachmilovitz, Camila Rodriguez '16 will work in South Africa. As a recipient of a Class of 1957 South Africa Summer Fellowship and a Public Interest Law Association grant, she will receive $7,500 for expenses to serve as a human rights watchdog for the Parliamentary Monitoring Group. The role involves attending committee meetings and writing reports that will be published on the group's website and in its magazine.

Rodriguez said the fellowship provides an opportunity to gain much-needed experience in an international legal setting.

"I plan on working internationally [after law school], and regardless of whether I end up working as a human rights lawyer or in a corporate setting, my trip to South Africa will teach me how this part of the world works," Rodriguez said.


Monroe Leigh Fellowship in International Law

Additionally, the three recipients of this year's Monroe Leigh Fellowship in International Law — Melissa Kathleen Reilly-Diakun '14, Erika Trujillo '15 and Reedy Swanson '16 — will together receive $10,000 to work on international law projects. Swanson and Trujillo also received Public Interest Law Association grants to support their summer jobs.

Reilly-Diakun will research, design and implement a pilot crop insurance program for farmers in Ghana on behalf of Seven Hills Global Outreach. The fellowship builds on research she did earlier this year as a Cowan Fellow in the Human Rights Study Project.

Trujillo, who also received a Public Interest Law Association grant, will work for the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate in New York, where she will assist a project researching how sanctions relate to counter-terrorism efforts, such as arms embargoes.

And Swanson will be stationed in Washington, D.C., where he will aid the U.S. Department of Justice in its Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Criminal Division. He said he anticipates assisting the section with its work related to human trafficking, war crimes and other complex human rights prosecutions.

"The section was initially established after World War II in order to help with the prosecutions of Nazi war criminals, and has broadened its mandate since," Swanson said.

Alyssa Pont '16, who is working for the International Finance Corporation in Mexico City, also received a PILA grant to support investments and projects with companies located in the emerging markets of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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