Summer 2020 IRLS International Internship Opportunities

The International Rule of Law and Security (IRLS) program has expanded its international internship program for the summer of 2020. In addition to internships in Timor-Leste, IRLS is now offering internships in Colombia, South Africa, and the Philippines. All of the internships focus on rule of law, human rights, international development, good governance, or related issues. In these internships, rising 2L, rising 3L, MLS, and LLM students will use the knowledge and skills gained in law school to help the host non-governmental organizations or government offices combat challenges faced by lawyers and ordinary citizens in countries with developing legal systems. Funding options to cover travel, housing, and living expenses are available for all IRLS internships, thanks in part to a generous donation from the Jones Day Foundation.

General internship details:

Application Link: To apply for the internships:

Application Timeline:

  • Applications are due by midnight Arizona time on January 24.
  • If you apply before fall grades are available, we will contact you to request a supplemental transcript in January.
  • Interviews will be scheduled within two weeks of the application deadline.
  • Decisions for all positions except Dejusticia will be made by February 14.
  • Decisions for Dejusticia will be made at the end of February.


Application Instructions:

  • Rank your choices in the application link.
    • You must rank at least one organization and you may rank as many as you would like. If you do not rank an organization, you will not be considered for that internship.
  • Focus your statement of interest on your top-ranked choice. You may include information about your other ranked choices as well.
  • Strong Spanish language skills are required for the internships at Fundación ProBono in Colombia. If you are not highly proficient in Spanish, do not apply for that position. The internship at Dejusticia in Colombia does not require proficiency in Spanish.
  • Dejusticia is the only one of these organizations that cannot guarantee an internship to an ASU Law student. The IRLS program will send a short list of applicants to Dejusticia; that organization will consider those applicants along with candidates from other law schools.
  • Please direct any application questions to Jacob Kostrzewski, Program Coordinator, at


Funding / Scholarships: The number and amount of awards granted for summer 2020 will be determined during the application process, but generally each student will be eligible to receive from $3,000 to $5,000, to cover travel, housing, and living expenses during the internship. Several scholarship awards will be funded by the Jones Day Foundation, and all applicants will be considered for these awards.

Additional funding for JD students is available through ASU Law’s Pay It Forward program. This program includes a pledge that award recipients intend to contribute back to the program within five years of graduation. More information about Pay It Forward is available here: If you do not wish to be considered for the Pay It Forward funding, indicate that on the application form.

All awards are disbursed as scholarships, and may be affected by your individual financial aid circumstances. Please direct questions about funding and scholarships to Lauren Burkhart at Selected candidates will meet with Eric Border to clarify the details of disbursement before the internship is finalized.

Credit: It is up to each student to decide whether to pursue course credit for summer internships. If you choose to do so, you will have to pay tuition and complete a few additional requirements. Students should also keep in mind the cap on total externship credits that may be applied towards graduation.

Internship Timeframe: IRLS summer internship programs are an 8-10 week commitment, generally from late May to late July (exact dates to be determined). If you plan to apply but have concerns about the dates, please let us know. Students are welcome to spend additional time in the area before or after the externship.

Internship descriptions:


4th of July celebrations at the US Embassy in Dili.
The bay in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, one of the world's newest democracies.

Located in Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste is one of the world’s newest democracies. It occupies the eastern half of the island of Timor, the other half of which is part of Indonesia. Timor-Leste boasts some of the most biodiverse reefs in the world, making it appealing for snorkeling and diving. There are also mountains to hike and small islands to explore.  Tetum and Portuguese are the official languages of the country; most Timorese who are able to learn a second language, however, are more interested in English than in Portuguese. The IRLS program welcomed its first cohort of ASU Law interns to Timor-Leste last summer. Read about their experiences in ASU Now here, and see their blog posts in the IRLS Dispatch Blog.

The IRLS program is partnering with the following organizations to offer up to five summer internships in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste:

1. Judicial System Monitoring Program: JSMP is a well-established NGO working to improve the justice system and citizens’ understanding of the courts and parliament. Working at JSMP in Timor-Leste’s capital city, Dili, will provide students with invaluable hands-on experience in the field of international rule of law in a developing country. It will supplement your legal education by exposing you to the challenges facing the legal infrastructure in developing countries, while doing meaningful work with local lawyers to improve it.

JSMP will take three ASU Law interns, one in each of the following programs, and the spots are guaranteed.

Legal Research Unit:

    • The intern will do at least one research and writing project. In 2019, the intern in this unit analyzed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and compared the obligations accepted by other treaty signatory states to Timor-Leste’s laws to identify areas where Timor-Leste was in compliance with its obligations and where additional work needed to be done. The report was distributed to various government ministries.
    • The intern will also share information about how to do research.


Training and Advocacy Unit:

    • The intern will do at least one research and writing project. In 2019, the intern in this unit researched how laws on freedom of assembly, defamation laws, and facilities for individuals found not guilty for reasons of insanity (NGRI) are implemented in other countries, and wrote a report with recommendations for the government of Timor-Leste on amending its current legal structure to fit international best practices. 
    • The intern will also share information on how to effectively use online advocacy tools.


Parliamentary Watch Project:

    • The intern will do at least one research and writing project. In 2019, the intern in this unit analyzed the current Law on Anti-Corruption and made recommendations based on laws and policies in other, similarly situated countries.
    • The intern will also share information about how to do research.


2. Provedoria dos Direitos Humanos e Justiça: PDHJ, or the Office of the Ombudsperson for Human Rights and Justice, is Timor-Leste’s national human rights institution. PDHJ was established by the Constitution of Timor-Leste to improve human rights and good governance in the country. The ombudsperson and her office work with local and international organizations to develop and enhance Timor-Leste’s human rights framework and to ensure that the country complies with international treaties it has signed. In 2019, the ASU Law intern at PDHJ researched and wrote a paper on the rights of persons with disabilities, and presented the paper at the South East Asia National Human Rights Institutional Forum, which was held in Timor-Leste that year. In 2020, the intern will work on a similar research project. PDHJ will again take up to two ASU Law interns, and the spots are guaranteed.


Bogota, Colombia's vibrant capital.
Sunset over Cartagena, a city featuring stunning architecture and beaches on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

At the northern tip of South America, Colombia has a diverse landscape and thriving cultural scene. The recent peace deal ending the five-decade-long conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) promises increased stability and peace to the country. The official language is Spanish, but English is widely spoken, primarily among younger people.

The IRLS program is partnering with the following organizations to offer students summer internships in Bogotá, Colombia:

1. The Center for Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia): Dejusticia is a Colombia-based non-profit working on strengthening the rule of law and promoting human rights in Colombia and across the Global South. They are a think-do tank that combines rigorous research and effective activism, an innovative approach that makes their work both challenging and exciting. Since their founding in 2005, their work has evolved into ten thematic areas, divided among seven issues. Spanish is a plus but not required. Dejusticia may take one ASU Law intern; however, the spot is not guaranteed. Learn more about Dejusticia’s mission and what they are looking for in candidates here.

2. Fundación ProBono Colombia: The Fundación ProBono focuses on establishing access to justice for those people or organizations that do not have economic resources to access and pay for high quality legal services. This objective is accomplished through a network of members from firms, corporate legal groups, and independent lawyers that take cases in a voluntary, free manner. They were the pioneers and joint-drafters of the Pro Bono Work Statement for the American Continent with the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. They have seven thematic areas. A high proficiency Spanish is required. Fundación ProBono is open to taking several ASU Law interns, and spots are guaranteed. Learn more about Fundación ProBono’s mission and what they are looking for in candidates here

South Africa

Downtown Johannesburg, as seen from the top of the tallest building in Africa.
A family of giraffes in Kruger National Park, eastern South Africa.

Occupying the southern tip of the African continent, South Africa is a multiethnic, multilingual democracy that underwent a successful transformation to a full democracy following the collapse of apartheid. It boasts stunning nature, vibrant cities, and a thriving civil society.

The IRLS program is partnering with the following organization to offer up to two students summer internships in Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city and Africa’s economic hub:

1. Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa: ISLA is a non-profit organization seeking to improve and advance women’s human rights, sexual rights, and economic justice across Africa through strategic litigation. While ISLA is based in Johannesburg, it brings cases in national courts in the region as well as in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In its effort to advance women’s rights, ISLA focuses on topics ranging from trafficking to women in conflict with the law to violence against women with disabilities. In its sexual rights work, the organization focuses on freedom of association and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Its economic justice division works on topics such as inheritance, property after the dissolution of a marriage, and the extractives industry. ISLA will take two ASU Law interns, and spots are guaranteed. Read more about ISLA’s mission and what they are looking for in candidates here.


Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, at sunset.
Beaches on the island of Boracay, one of the thousands that make up the Philippines.

Located in Southeast Asia, this country of more than 7,000 islands and 100 million people was colonized by Spain and then the United States before gaining independence in 1946. It is a beautiful, fascinating, and fast-growing country grappling with a range of development challenges.

The IRLS program is partnering with the following organization to offer up to two students summer internships in Manila, the capital of the Philippines:

1. Ateneo Human Rights Center: AHRC was founded in 1986 and is affiliated with the law school at Ateneo de Manila University. Since its establishment, AHRC has had a structured internship program that exposes domestic and foreign law students to some of the challenges to fundamental rights in the Philippines as well as to a variety of types of human rights work. Educating future lawyers about human rights is one of AHRC’s main areas of work; other such areas include but are not limited to civil and political rights, gender issues, and building the human rights mechanism in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The internships begin with an orientation session, including a formation program during which interns see the work of human rights advocates in another part of the Philippines. ASU Law interns will be assigned research and report-writing projects, and they will also get to see other aspects of AHRC’s work, such as paralegal training and litigation. There may be opportunities for ASU Law interns to present their reports for advocacy purposes. AHRC will take up to two ASU Law interns, and spots are guaranteed.

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