Su Anne Lee ’17 LL.M., a native of Malaysia, came to Columbia Law School last fall as a Fulbright Scholar, a Catherine N. Niarchos Human Rights Scholar, and an LL.M. Human Rights Fellow. Now, she has been awarded the Law School’s postgraduate Greater China Public Interest Fellowship; it will provide funding for her to spend a year working in the Hong Kong office of PILnet, an NGO that connects activist lawyers around the globe and helps empower citizens to shape policy and the law.
“PILnet is trying to inspire law students to go into public interest work and open legal aid clinics for underserved and marginalized populations,” said Lee. “My project will focus on helping PILnet promote the use of law for public interest in Hong Kong, through contributing to its legal aid and legal education programs, and the design of its refugee and anti-human trafficking initiatives.”
Lee came to Columbia with a decade of legal experience. After several years working as a corporate and commercial lawyer in Kuala Lumpur, she joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia and then transferred to the UNHCR in Hong Kong. She applied for the Greater China Public Interest Fellowship so she could return there because it’s “a regional hub with one of the world’s most developed legal systems, including a strong rule of law,” she said. “Hong Kong is well-placed to play an important role in advancing public interest law and in setting an example for other nations in Asia.”
Before starting with PILnet in the fall, Lee will spend the summer in Tokyo as a Morrison & Foerster Public Interest Fellow at Human Rights Now, the first international human rights NGO based in Japan. “I want to understand how different types of advocacy methods can be used,” she said.
Reflecting on her LL.M. year, Lee cited the Law School curriculum’s integration of “academic and practical components, especially in the Human Rights Clinic” as especially useful for her. At Columbia, she has been focused on the intersection of international law and human rights, particularly regarding forced migration and the rights of refugees. “I look forward to putting what I’ve learned into practice to effect systemic policy changes,” she said.
Posted on June 1, 2017