2019 LL.M. Public Interest and Government Fellowships

Laura O'Brien ’19 LL.M. Awarded LL.M. Public Interest and Government Fellowship at Access Now


Laura O'Brien ’19 LL.M.

Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in social justice and peace studies from Western University, Master of Arts in international development from the University of Kent, and J.D. from the University of Ottawa

Experience: Projects Abroad (Argentina), law and human rights intern; Just Governance Group, legal intern; Amnesty International Canada, pro bono volunteer; University of Ottawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Human Rights Clinic, research assistant; Government of Canada, Global Affairs Canada, legal intern; Phillip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition, competitor; Columbia Law School Domestic Violence Project, Human Trafficking Intervention Court Project, pro bono volunteer; Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic, student; research assistant to Columbia Law School Professor Sarah Cleveland; research assistant to two United Nations special rapporteurs

Motivation: “During an experiential learning delegation I completed in Guatemala as an undergraduate student, I listened to a community of human rights defenders as they recounted their experiences during a genocide. It was during this experience that my interest in social justice developed into a passion. Since then, I have sought opportunities to develop the necessary skills to become a critically informed and empathetic human rights advocate. At Columbia Law School, I continue to explore the pervasiveness of censorship—particularly of human rights defenders—in the digital realm. Through seminar discussions led by leading human rights experts, my experience at Columbia Law School has illuminated the significant effects and risks associated with digital technology, specifically as it relates to the enunciation and development of human rights norms worldwide.”

Goals: “Access Now is an international organization dedicated to defending and extending the digital rights of users at risk around the world. As a fellow at Access Now, I hope to support their mission and offer insightful contributions to the area of digital rights. I hope to assist with the organization’s influence on the development of rights-respecting internet and tech policy governance. I am excited for this unique opportunity to apply the strategic advocacy skills I developed at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic and to pursue my long-term career aspiration: assisting in the legal advocacy and policy operations of an international organization.”

The office of Social Justice Initiatives (SJI) guides Columbia Law School students who want to pursue public interest work throughout their academic careers and after graduation. SJI also assists in the process of applying to prestigious postgraduate fellowships. Read about other 2019 LL.M. public interest and government postgraduate fellows.

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Published on May 15, 2019