Candy Ofime ’17
Growing up in a multicultural neighborhood of Paris as the daughter of a French mother and Nigerian father, Candy Ofime ’17 was aware of human rights issues from an early age.
After earning a B.A. in economics and an LL.B. from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Ofime moved to India, where she taught English, math, and dance to girls who were survivors of gender-based violence. The experience convinced her, she says, that she could best effect social change “with a legal lens.”
Ofime applied to Columbia Law School because of its world renowned Human Rights Institute and Human Rights Clinic. “Columbia was the right place to develop the skills I was looking for,” she says. “The Law School is really plugged in with the New York human rights community.”
Ofime made impressive use of her time in Morningside Heights. She was a research assistant to Visiting Professor of Law Amal Clooney, focusing on the right to a fair trial in international law. She also served as co-president of both Rightslink and the Society of Law and Ethics—two active student organizations. Ofime spent the summer after her 1L year in the West Bank as a Palestine Works Fellow, and the following summer she worked on international legal cases and a pro bono project supporting LGBTQIA youth in Florida at Baker McKenzie’s New York office.
As a participant in the Human Rights Clinic, Ofime translated interviews with French-speaking survivors of sexual violence in the Central African Republic, and was a member of an interdisciplinary team, led by Professor Sarah Knuckey, that investigated the impact of industrial gold mining on indigenous communities in Papua New Guinea.
Enrolled in one of the Law School’s International Dual Degree Programs, Ofime fulfilled her J.D. requirements in two years, and returned to Paris 1 to complete her LL.M. in international arbitration and trade. “I was able to have the full U.S. legal education, and at the same time earn a second degree in France,” she says.
During her 3L year in Paris, Ofime worked on a pro bono project on housing rights in South Africa with the Legal Resources Centre and interned at Human Rights Watch. After graduation, she will serve as the organization’s Leonard H. Sandler Fellow, a one-year fellowship position open only to recent J.D. graduates of the Law School.
“I tried to use my time at law school for experimentation,” she says. “I took advantage of every available opportunity to get out of my zone of comfort and sharpen my skill set.”