PSD Law Intern
Oxfam America - Boston, MA

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Background : Oxfam America (OA) established the Private Sector Department (PSD) in order to channel the creativity, resources, and influence of the private sector to pro-poor ends. As a rare global development organization with private sector capacity, OA is a leader in corporate campaigning, innovative collaborations, and pro-poor private sector development. The department’s current projects include a micro-insurance pilot in Ethiopia, a multi-stakeholder initiative around farm worker rights in the United States, and a Poverty Footprint Study with a multi-national company. The department also supports private sector engagement on the following OA campaigns and advocacy priorities: right to know & right to decide, rights in crisis, economic justice, access to medicines, and aid effectiveness.

FELLOWSHIP Overview : PSD hosts the Northeastern University PHRGE Fellowship to give current law students the unique opportunity to gain real world experience at our Global Headquarters in Boston, MA in the areas of development, human rights, corporate responsibility and international law. The Fellow works directly with all members of PSD’s team. The Fellow will work full-time during the 11-week program.

The Fellow will have the opportunity to:
Work collaboratively in a fast paced, professional environment;

Contribute to one or more domestic and/or international projects;

Address economic, social and cultural rights both within the US and internationally;

Develop skills in research & writing for a range of purposes and different audiences

Duties : Fellow assignments will vary, but the core duties are:

Research & analysis for campaigns and projects

Track down information and sources of evidence.

Screen private sector companies that wish to donate to or collaborate with Oxfam America.

Monitor international and national legal developments related to OA campaigns and PSD projects.

Research, analyze and report on trends in development, human rights, corporate responsibility and international law.

Draft relevant documents as needed such as: research reports, comparative reports, policy briefings or guidelines, position, papers, questionnaires, survey findings, supporting documentation for meetings (e.g. background papers), summary papers.

Support the Shareholder Advocacy Program

Conduct industry research and benchmarking consistent with advocacy priorities.

Search SEC-related databases to determine votes on advocacy priorities.

Support the filing of (& addressing any legal challenges to) shareholder resolutions under SEC rules.

Write communication materials describing the issues.

Conduct letter-writing and e-mail campaigns to gain support for resolutions.

Coordinate the work of the Law Firm Consortium

Assist with coordinating, maintaining, and developing the OA Law Firm Consortium’s pro-bono support to OA.

Monitor and assist with requests for information from lawyers across OA.

Disseminate jurisprudence and other relevant information.

Help recruit lawyers for pro-bono assistance to OA programs

Provide broader team support

Support team members on the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of PSD’s work, as directed

Work as a team with members of staff and other interns on project deliverables.

Participate in work-related activities (i.e., meetings, webinars, workshops, conferences, brown-bags), take notes and prepare summaries for staff

Limited general administrative support

Meticulous record-keeping of the Fellow’s work assignments

Administrative activities as requested, which will contribute to a fuller understanding of the inner workings of PSD and OA

EXAMPLES OF ASSIGNMENTS : Fellow’s assignments will vary, but here are some examples of prior Fellow’s assignments:

Research to identify definitions & models for public private partnerships (PPP), as well as an analysis of best practices in using; PPPs to address social injustice and poverty globally;

Research on relevant standards/laws – and linkages between soft law and hard law - supporting John Ruggie’s UN framework for business and human rights, including its implications to industries of interest to Oxfam (Agri-business, Extractives, Pharma);

Research & analysis on best practices in governance models for multi-stakeholder initiatives;

Write a memo stating main arguments that seek to explain the role of the private sector, civil society and government in solving problems such as global poverty, and some examples of projects that are good examples of these various approaches;

Research to identify some trade & commerce policies in Zambia, & El Salvador that prevent small holder farmers from participating in fair trade of major commodities produced in these countries.

Examine the on-going trends of increased land grabbing by sovereign wealth funds, agribusiness and private investment funds that threaten the basic rights and food security of poor people in developing countries and identify some legal issues that arise in the context of land grabbing.

Assess the relevant laws that would provide legal protection to poor farmers and people in Cambodia against land gabbing, and elaborate an approach and strategy Oxfam could pursue to improve legal and human rights protections against this emerging trend.

The Fellow will become staff for the duration of the fellowship. The Fellow will be expected to attend the office 40 hours per week, during normal business hours between 9am and 5pm, for the duration of the 11-week fellowship (excepting holidays), and to apply the same standards of work and professional attitudes as we expect from a regular beginning OA employee.

The Fellow is expected to contribute to all the departmental projects and campaigns. Early on in the fellowship, the Fellow, the Intern Coordinator and the Supervising Attorney will identify and discuss the learning goals of the Fellow and the working needs of the Department in order to develop a work plan for the fellowship. The Fellow and the Coordinator will meet bi-weekly to discuss progress on the work plan and learning goals, as well as performance in areas of work. The Supervising Attorney will also meet the Fellow as and when deemed necessary by the Fellow, Coordinator and/or the Supervising Attorney.

Furthermore, the Supervising Attorney will maintain a bi-weekly supervisory meeting schedule with the Fellow throughout the internship. The Fellow and the Supervising Attorney may adjust the work plan and learning goals as necessary to meet the needs of the Fellow and PSD during the Fellowship. The Fellow should communicate directly with the Supervising Attorney and Coordinator regarding any changes to the work schedule or work assignments. The Supervising Attorney will complete a final performance evaluation in accordance with the Fellow’s school requirements.

The nature of Oxfam America’s work setting and PSD’s work demand requires that the PHRGE Fellow, in the course of the fellowship:

Maintain high level of research, writing, communication and analytical skills;

Consciously maintain good interpersonal skills & be willing to work well in a team;

Remain open-minded about, and be comfortable operating in OA’s multi-cultural, international environment;

Use discretion, confidentiality, and good judgment;

Be detail-oriented and organized; and

Maintain an insatiable curiosity about field of international development, corporate responsibility and human rights.

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