L-R: Tirza Leibowitz, director of rights advocacy for Survivor Corps; Shelby Quast, 1997, director general with Partners for Gender Justice; and University of Texas law professor Kristine Huskey.
Career Paths That Make a Difference
Students are often advised to “do what you love” when planning their postgraduate careers. Three attorneys who followed that advice, and are glad that they did, shared their stories with Catholic University law students on Nov. 17 at a Law and Public Policy Program forum titled “Lawyers, Public Policy & Human Rights in the International Arena.”
The 90-minute program featured Kristine Huskey, a clinical professor of law with the University of Texas National Security Clinic and author of Justice at Guantanamo: One Woman’s Odyssey and Her Crusade for Human Rights; Tirza Leibowitz, director of rights advocacy for Survivor Corps; and CUA law alumna Shelby Quast, 1997, director general with Partners for Gender Justice.
The panelists discussed their work on human rights, the rule of law, humanitarian aid issues and also addressed the many ways in which lawyers can become involved with these issues in the international arena.
Quast, who is also a former adjunct professor at the Columbus School of Law, now concentrates on ways to promote women's participation in and access to the justice sector in post-conflict societies. Established in 2004, the Partners for Gender Justice is an international association that works to position the issues of women's participation in and access to the justice sector in post-conflict environments at the forefront of development, globally, regionally and locally.
“I’ve combined public and private law for most of my career. You don’t necessarily have to stay in one field or the other,” Quast advised students. She also reiterated the importance of networking. “Drink coffee with people who do what you think you want to do.”
For her part, Leibowitz discussed her work with Survivor Corps, an organization that advocates for the civilian victims of landmines. Brought to the forefront of public conscientiousness by the late Princess Diana, Leibowitz noted that in the years since, not enough progress has been made on the issue. The United States, Russia, China and India remain among the major nations that have not signed international treaties banning the use and production of landmines, although Leibowitz observed that fewer of the weapons are being produced today.
For students interested in pursuing such a legal cause someday, Leibowitz urged them to remember that the ultimate damage to landmine victims goes beyond physical injury such as missing limbs.
“They tell me that what they’ve really lost is their place in society. They want to reclaim it,” she said.