Kadiedra Jones Shares Her International Internship Experience
Second-year student Kadiedra Jones spent the summer participating in the Summer in Madrid program with the Center for International and Comparative Law, followed by an internship at ECIJA in the Dominican Republic.
ECIJA, an international law firm with a network of over 800 professionals, has existed for more than 20 years. In that time, the firm has expanded to headquarter locations in Spain, Portugal, Colombia, Chile, Panamá, Costa Rica, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
She discusses the experience with the Summer in Madrid program and ECIJA here.
We heard that this was your first time out of the country! How did you feel taking on such an immersive experience for your first trip outside the U.S.?
Initially, I was terrified. I come from a tight-knit family and I'm the youngest, so I was nervous about leaving my family. I was worried about being home sick, but from the moment I arrived in Madrid, I felt right at home (talk about a shock). Going abroad was the best decision I could have made for myself.
What made you decide to apply for the Summer in Madrid Program? What did you hope to get out of the experience?
I was undecided about the area of law I wanted to practice, so the opportunity to learn more about International Business Law, coupled with an internship abroad was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I hoped to get a better understanding of international law, and to determine if it was area of practice that interested me.
What attracted you to the ECIJA internship?
The location. I have always wanted to visit the DR. Also, after speaking with Aaron Reynolds about his experience with ECIJA, I knew ECIJA was the best choice for me.
What was your experience like working there? Can you describe your day-to-day work, as well as a couple of bigger projects you did?
This going to sound like a cliche, but the people at ECIJA are like a huge family. Upon my arrival, the staff had gifts to welcome me. Each week they planned different outings for me to explore and experience the DR. My workdays at ECIJA varied from day to day. The partners asked me what areas of law I wanted to practice, and I provided a list of different practice areas. From there, I was paired with different attorneys in the office and assisted them in any way I could. I did a lot of legal research, which was much different than how we do legal research in the US. My favorite research assignment involved a US corporation that wanted to create a branch office in the DR, as they essentially wanted to be a business on paper. I also researched the requirements for corporations bringing its employees to the DR, and the process of obtaining work permits, and residency permits. From this research, I created a checklist that the firm still uses.
What was the biggest surprise about the work? about the Dominican Republic?
The biggest surprise for me, as noted above, was their process for legal research. Because the DR operates under the civil law system, case law is not heavily relied upon. Instead, most of my legal research required me to review different agencies and their specific policies.
How did your overall experience shape your future career trajectory?
The professional connections I made in the DR are ones I will have for life. Prior to my internship, I was unsure of the area of law I wanted to pursue. I still am not 100% sold on anything, but now I am certain that international law/business law are at the top of my list. My experience in the DR also made me more open to working abroad.
After law school, do you hope to live/practice abroad or have an international component to your practice?
Yes, yes, and yes.
What advice would you give to other law students considering an international internship?
Do it! Even if you are uncertain, if the opportunity presents itself, take it. The kind of work you will do interning abroad will set you a part, in a good way, from your peers. It also looks amazing on your resume.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
If given the opportunity, try and find a place to live with other locals. My roommates, 3 Spanish chicas, were my lifeline. They helped me with my Spanish, they took me exploring. I met their friends and was able to really immerse myself in the culture. I had other classmates who lived alone, and they wished they would have had local roommates.