Temple Law School’s Institute for International Law and Public Policy concluded its career series with a panel discussion that shed light on the truly dynamic work of international law specialists. Temple Law Professor Jaya Ramji-Nogales introduced her former students Oksana Wright ‘09, who is now an associate litigation attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP; Jane Charles-Voltaire ‘11, who is a senior program officer with the International Association of Women Judges; and Ben Kraut ‘14, who is a foreign affairs officer with the U.S. Department of State. Given the diverse backgrounds of the panelists, they each had invaluable advice to impart to the students in attendance.
Wright noted that her slew of international law classes with Professor Hollis, alongside her Russian legal background, enabled her to establish herself as the “go to person for international questions” at Fox Rothschild, LLP. Wright went on to emphasize the importance of supplementing one’s education with summer associateships and other opportunities for growth. She likes to keep her work interesting by taking on complex cases that teach her new things about whatever region she’s working with at the time. Despite her success, Wright feels as if she graduated at the worst time to be entering the legal profession due to the 2008 financial crisis. In the early days of her career, Wright had to take on whatever cases in the firm that she could get. In light of this, Wright urges students to not limit themselves to only cases in their specialization, but rather to develop transferable skills.
Having worked in Haiti with the Cabinet of The Women’s Ministry, Charles-Voltaire came to Temple Law with her own unique international experience. She admitted to not finding her place at Temple until she began studying international law, and created a guided research project with the assistance of Professor Ramji-Nogales. As such, Charles-Voltaire urges students to make use of the faculty and their network. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Charles-Voltaire recognized the value in focusing on issues where she could make the most impact as a lawyer, while also building a face to face connection with the community she was serving. Much of her work while in Haiti, and now with the IAWJ, involves both designing and measuring the impact of projects that range from environmental rights to anti-trafficking initiatives. As a lawyer, she said she is constantly trying to understand: “What does this work, that’s going on in a post disaster setting such as Haiti, actually mean to the people that are there and how do I fit into this narrative?”
Kraut cites his background in the U.S. Navy, as well as his family of lawyers, as fostering his desire to pursue a career in foreign policy. Kraut made it a point to follow his own path at Temple Law. He didn’t take any bar classes, but rather followed his passion to focus on public speaking, international law, and trial advocacy. While at Temple Law, Kraut said he was “truly inspired” by Professor Knauer and eventually became one of her Law and Public Policy Scholars. Kraut also did internships with non-profit organizations that enabled him to pursue his interest in water-conflict and public service. Additionally, he highly recommends that students considering a career in government service pursue the Presidential Management Fellows program, at the end of which fellows convert to full time civil servants. Kraut has had great success working on sanction projects involving London, Iran, and North Korea.
More than offering standard guidance, the panelists left students with a solid understanding how to make the most out of their Temple Law experience.
~Amy Dean, Staff Writer