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Intern Update 6/4/12 (Margaret Iha – Part 2)

Margaret “Beth” Iha, 2L

Restoration Ministries
Human Trafficking
Washington, DC 

          My responsibilities as a legal intern have been to create legal agreements for new volunteers, interns, and independent contractors; to attend D.C. and Northern Virginia Task Force meetings; to meet with the local judge who handles all of the prostitution cases dealing with juveniles; to meet with the U.S. Attorney who heads the D.C. Trafficking Task Force, and to attend several forums on trafficking, one at the state-of-the-art FBI Northern Virginia Resident Agency in Manassas, Virginia. I will soon be doing a nighttime ride along with local police officers who focus on prostitution and possibly will be able to sit in a few prostitution court cases.

          I have also been volunteering with Christian Legal Aid (CLA) once a week observing and assisting attorneys who provide legal help to those who cannot afford to pay an attorney. The cases are incredibly diverse and interesting, take place in four different parts of the city, and have already taught me a great deal about dealing with others as a Christian attorney. I’m so thankful that Angela (the Executive Director) and Sam (the Chair) have allowed me to be a part of the process. It’s such important work. In addition, I have a meeting tomorrow with Martina Vandenberg, a local attorney who has been actively engaged with the trafficking issue for over a decade in amazing ways and who was chosen this year as an Open Society Fellow. Her newest challenge, as a Fellow, is to create a center that serves as a clearing house, bringing together pro bono attorneys with human trafficking survivors seeking assistance. The organization will seek to bridge the gap of trust and understanding that exists between the private bar and anti-trafficking activists in a variety of ways. Martina has been actively using civil law in her fight against trafficking, something no other attorney is doing in the D.C. area, and something I am very interested in. It should be a great meeting. I am realizing that D.C. is a goldmine of opportunities for legal interns interested in human rights issues, especially trafficking.

          Add to all of that how much I love the city with its unbelievable number of people; my hour commute to and from Bethesda, Maryland on a sometimes un-air-conditioned and always jam-packed crowded Metro train; the long, high escalators leading out of the dimly lit train tunnels to my lovely summer home and host in Bethesda; the restaurants on every corner with every possible delicious cuisine; and the amazing sights in D.C. including my favorite recent discovery, the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. This is where tourists and interns alike sit in the midst of a circle of neatly pruned trees by a reflecting pool, shoes on the ground behind them, cooling their feet in the pool’s waters, feet steaming from the blocks and blocks of required D.C. walking. Arcs of water stream across the pool, starting low and rising to a crescendo, all meeting in the middle. Breathtaking! Yesterday, a duck dive-bombed into the pool to get crackers from some kids sitting near me. I have never seen a duck from quite that angle, legs dangling as he soared above trying to pick the perfect landing spot. I feel like that duck. First year of law school is like legs dangling, looking for a place to land. I feel I’ve found it for this summer. Thanks so much to those who have made it possible, Candace, Regent, and donors. Six more weeks and lots more to come….