Buenos Dias From A Costa Rican Internship

February 1, 2013 | By Courtney Ernston, J.D. Class of 2013

I have just started a legal internship in San Jose, Costa Rica, with the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, one of four international Courts in the world.   

First week and half here has been quite the experience already!  The Court operates ENTIRELY in Spanish, so I didn't really get a grace period to ease into things – although I must admit the total immersion into the language has already helped me tremendously.    

I am thrilled to be in this internship. This is the Court where the decisions that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights go for review – basically the Supreme Court on human rights in the Americas. I was put on a case that will be heard in about two weeks before the Court.  I've been tasked with writing a memo on Article 9 (freedom from ex post facto laws) using case law from the European Court of Human Rights, the U.S., this Court's jurisprudence and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights decisions in trying to show that the State violated this article.  Can't talk about much more than that on the case itself; it's very covert. Just preparing for my career as an international spy!   

In terms of logistics, we have a senior lawyer, a junior, anywhere from one to four interns (our superstar team has four), a legal assistant and a clerk.  I just got out of my first one-on-one meeting with my senior lawyer, and he seemed very impressed with my analyses thus far. He even threw in a, "Wow, I hadn't thought about using the language like that” -- and that felt pretty darn good!   

I look forward to more adventures during my semester in Costa Rica – but, for now, off I go to Panama to enjoy the beautiful beaches!    

Saludos a todos.

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