Legal Internship at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC (Danielle Chu, 2L)

Opportunity enabled by the Gerald L. Gall O.C. Global Community Service Grant 2014

Danielle Chu, 2L, UAlberta Faculty of Law - 25 September 2014

The Gerald L. Gall O.C. Global Community Service Grant gave me the opportunity to be a Legal Intern at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. I worked in the Administrative Law Section; half my time was spent in the Disciplinary Section and half my time was spent in the Appeals Section. Both sections involved working on internal staff dispute matters. My work in both sections involved a lot of hands-on work including preparing for, and attending oral hearings, and a plethora of legal research and drafting.

The Disciplinary Section involved cases regarding UN staff members who acted contrary to the UN Staff Rules and Regulations. Work in this section involved identifying persuasive evidence against a Staff Member and drafting recommendations to the Secretary-General on what action to pursue on a case. The cases I worked on in this matter ranged from a high-ranking Staff Member involved in credit fraud and tax evasion in New York, to a sexual harassment case in Beijing, to a UN driver criminally convicted in South Sudan. The Disciplinary Unit was a really fantastic introduction to how to balance conflicts of statutes, multijurisdictional jurisprudence, and how to establish Rule of Law in an international setting. One of the best parts about working with the Disciplinary Unit was that I had the opportunity to work on cases from all over the world. For example, I participated in an oral hearing where the UN's counsel was in New York, the Staff Member and her key witnesses were in Kinshasa, Congo, the opposing counsel was in Geneva, and the Court and Judge were sitting in Nairobi. We had to get in at 5 am just so the trial would end before 5pm Congo time when the translators had to go home!

In the Appeals Unit, I attended oral hearings regarding labour contracts and cases challenging administrative decisions. With the Appeals Unit, I attended hearings in front of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal on a daily basis. I was also involved in drafting responses to the Applicants' submissions, researching UN jurisprudence, and interpreting UN statute with respect to their Administrative decisions. Working in the Appeals Unit gave me an excellent introduction to Labour and Employment Law and Administrative Law.

All in all it was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone. Of course, living in New York for the summer wasn't half bad either! Thanks to the Gerald L. Gall O.C. Global Community Service Grant, I was able to pursue this amazing opportunity having only completed 1L - an opportunity that solidified that my decision to pursue law was absolutely the right one for me.

Gerald L. Gall Global Community Service Grant: The Faculty of Law Global Community Service grant was renamed the Gerald L. Gall Global Community Service grant in memory of Professor Gall. The purpose of these awards is to provide financial assistance to students who wish to become involved in projects and activities that serve the larger community, either in Canada or abroad. First year and upper year students are eligible for these awards. The award is designed to permit students to pursue these activities during the summer months between their law studies at the Faculty of Law.