The Equal Rights Trust provides those at the start of their career in human rights the opportunity to gain essential experience in paid internship and fellowship positions. Through these placements, we are helping to level the playing field so those not able to support themselves financially can break into the sector and help us advance equality worldwide. In December 2015 we spoke to our our Legal Research Intern, Sam Barnes on his experience and thoughts on the scheme.
I joined the Equal Rights Trust in September 2015 and before this I worked as a research assistant at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and completed a six month internship at the Human Dignity Trust. I studied Law at the University of Hull and graduated with a First in July 2013. Both my studies and my work experience have allowed me to develop and pursue my interests in Public, Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
As Legal Research Intern What are your main responsibilities?
Due to the complementary way in which the Trust approaches projects, I have been able to work with both the litigation and advocacy teams which was one of my main requests at the start of the internship. I have worked on a number of projects; from producing case summaries as part of the Trust’s Court Watch, to preparing advocacy submissions to UN Treaty Bodies, to substantial research on issues concerning equality and non-discrimination spanning a broad range of topics.
Would you say the internship provides a unique experience? How so?
The Trust works on certain areas of law not broadly covered elsewhere and especially not at the same level of legal analysis, so I feel I’ve been given a unique insight into these areas, for example, the Trust’s work on statelessness and the situation of Rohingya in the Asian region.
How would you describe your internship experience overall?
Overall, the internship has been extremely interesting, mostly due to the diverse topics I have worked on which have helped me further my understanding of international human rights law – I am sure this will benefit me in future employment and education. I feel my contributions are appreciated and I have had a couple of meetings to discuss my goals and plans, which, for me, is very important. Through the experience of friends and former colleagues I have seen the necessity of gaining experience, and doing so in an environment that both trusts and relies upon your abilities is incredibly important.
You applied for a grant offered by the Trust to fund your position. Did the grant influence your decision to apply for the position?
Applying to the internship was a win-win as it allowed me to pursue my interests and it offered me a grant to do so. Before working at the Trust I had only applied to two positions as my primary goal has been to increase my research skills and knowledge of particular areas of law. I don’t come from London, so in order to stay in the area where most legal research positions are, funding is crucial. In London some form of grant or payment is the only way to enjoy the same opportunities as those who are able to support themselves.