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If you are interested in pursuing a career in Law, this life-changing Internship will give you the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the industry, on an international level! This internship is a unique opportunity to learn about other peoples, cultures and current human rights issues. An internship in Cape Town, South Africa is the perfect opportunity for you to expand your cultural and professional horizons!
Cape Town International Law Internship Projects
South Africa is world-famous for the peaceful democratic transformation that took place within the country in 1994, after the end of apartheid rule. When the African National Congress took control of government, one of its primary mandates was a major expansion of every South African’s basic human rights.
As a result, the ANC created a new constitution that is considered by many legal historians, to be the most progressive in the world. It is within this environment that you will have the opportunity to work as a legal intern at one of South Africa’s many inspiring NGOs or law firms that engages human rights law issues.
Below is a list of possible placement sites, please note however that each internship is individually tailored, based on your internship questionnaire, your background and experience, and what you are looking to gain from the placement. The below is merely an example of possible placement sites, and there is no guarantee this is where you will be placed.
Placement Spotlight – SAHRC
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is a government-funded organization that is entrusted with monitoring the human rights of South Africans. If you are accepted as an intern at this site (this is our most competitive internship), you will work at a famous human rights organization while also gaining exposure to the South African legal and parliamentary systems.
The mission statement of the SAHRC is as follows: "The SAHRC is a national institution established to entrench constitutional democracy through the promotion and protection of human rights by: Addressing human rights violations and seeking effective redress for such violations; monitoring and assessing the observance of human rights; raising awareness of human rights issues; and educating and training on human rights." Apartheid left deep cultural scars in South Africa and the new government is still working to purge society of prejudice, xenophobia and racism. The SAHRC plays an incredibly important role in monitoring the evolutionary progress of democracy in the “new” South Africa. While South Africa features the world’s most liberal constitution, a document lauded for its many human rights provisions, it is the responsibility of an organization like the SAHRC to ensure that South Africans’ constitutional rights are being protected in practice.
As an intern at SAHRC, you will monitor legislation as it pertains to the interest of the SAHRC by making regular trips to the South African Parliament. You will also have the opportunity to draft policy papers on behalf of the SAHRC (provided that you have earned the trust of the staff). Participants with a legal background will thrive in this internship role because you will often be asked to give legal advice. While working as an assistant to the SAHRC human rights lawyers, you will be responsible for assessing the veracity of each claim and identify the cases that are worth pursuing in the equality courts. This will involve direct interaction with South Africans who wish to make human rights claims, so it is important that you have prior experience work/internship experience interacting with members of the public in a service role (e.g., customer service, volunteer work).
Placement Spotlight – Scheibert & Associates
Scheibert & Associates, which was formed in 1998, provides professional and comprehensive services in a wide variety of legal fields, including international and local tax and estate planning, private international law, immigration law, criminal law, company and property law, insurance and general litigation and the rendering of advice on all legal matters concerning the corporate and individual client in South Africa and abroad.
The firm makes use of the latest computer and IT technology so as to ensure that both clients and staff benefit from this fast-developing field by gaining access to law libraries and local and international websites for research purposes. The firm also has extensive connections abroad, particularly in Germany, to not only large and multinational companies but also specialized attorneys in all fields.
As an intern with Scheibert & Associates, you will work with the young, dynamic, and energetic group of multi-lingual legal professionals who are dedicated to the highest standards of client care and quality of service. You will have the opportunity to gain exposure to a wide range of legal fields, which is invaluable experience for anyone studying or considering a career in law.
Placement Spotlight – Women’s Legal Centre
The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) is a non-profit, independently funded law centre established by a group of dedicated women lawyers to promote the cause of women’s rights in South Africa. The WLC seeks to advance the struggle for equality for women, particularly black women, who suffer socioeconomic disadvantage in South Africa. The Centre strives for a vision of women in South Africa, free from violence, empowered to ensure their own reproductive and health rights, free to own their own share of property, having a safe place to stay, and empowered to work in an equal environment. There is a vast amount of progress to be made before this vision can be turned into reality.
The WLC tackles this monumental mission by litigating cases that advance women’s rights, particularly constitutional cases, and by producing briefs to assist courts in constitutional cases that concern women’s rights and gender equality. In addition, where resources permit, the WLC aims to provide women’s organizations with technical legal assistance in making submissions to Parliament and other institutions. Their plans include strategies to provide training a capacity building to paralegals and female lawyers who wish to conduct constitutional litigation in regard to gender issues. The WLC does litigation work in the areas of gender-based violence; relationship rights; land and housing; labor; and health.
As an intern with the WLC, you will work with a dedicated, energetic team of female law professionals, and you will have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the WLC’s day-to-day work. This may include doing research; meeting with clients; assisting with the writing of affidavits, legal submissions, briefs, and policy papers; and even attending court cases.
Placement Spotlight – Natural Justice
Natural Justice is a non-profit organization that works locally, nationally, and internationally to empower communities to develop their legal capacity to demand social and environmental justice. This internship will enable participants to pursue and develop dual interests in law and public policy through direct, hands-on experience.
Based in Cape Town, Natural Justice is a non-profit organization with three main objectives that align with those of the Convention on Biological Diversity, namely: the conservation of biological diversity; the sustainable use of the environment; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of natural resources. To carry out its aims, the organization works at the community, national, and international levels, and partners with formal and informal groups ranging from indigenous peoples and local communities to governments and international bodies.
Out of the firm belief that communities should have a say in the decisions that directly affect them, Natural Justice uses its expertise in international and domestic law to help communities assert their rights to control their natural resources and manage them according to their customary laws. The organization provides communities with information and training programs designed to alert them to their rights under national and international laws and treaties, in addition to innovative legal solutions to ensure that they can actually exercise these rights. Natural Justice also uses its direct experience in local communities to develop critical legal thought about the substance of the law and its implementation. In doing so, the organization provides legal and technical expertise to international negotiations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and to other international and domestic initiatives that involve communities and natural resources.
An intern with Natural Justice will have the opportunity to work with a dynamic and knowledgeable team of lawyers and researchers on a range of projects related to the field of environmental law, advocacy, research, and policymaking. Work will be exciting and varied, and will involve hands-on legal work in addition to some fieldwork in local communities, where you will get a good sense of how laws and policies made at the national and international levels actually have an impact within local communities.
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