Spotlight on 2011 PILF Grantee, Matthew Palmer

By far one of the greatest ways USF Public Interest Law Foundation helps to make an impact in our community is by providing grants to USF Law students who choose to pursue unpaid summer legal work. This past summer, 25 remarkable students were selected to each receive grants of $4,000. We are proud to offer these grants through the generous donations we receive throughout the year as well as through several fundraising events sponsored by USF and PILF.

Our largest fundraising opportunity is the Annual PILF Gala and Auction. This year’s Gala and Auction takes place on November 4th. As the Auction draws nearer, we want to take a moment to introduce our most recent 2011 Summer Grantees in the Q&A’s below.

3L Matthew Palmer Talks About International and Human Rights Law

Matthew Palmer is from Manhattan Beach, California.  He attended UCLA as an undergraduate.  This past summer he worked at The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), an international human-rights organization.


Why did you choose law school, and why USF in particular? 

I wanted to obtain a skill to help those in need. I was particularly interested in International Human Rights Law and chose USF because of its clinic programs, its summer abroad opportunities, and its commitment to social justice at home and abroad.

What kind of work did you do this summer?

I worked on a variety of cases holding individuals accountable for major violations of international law including genocide, torture, and crimes against humanity under a federal law known as the Alien Tort Statute. The ATS is a civil statute that allows alien plaintiffs to sue in U.S. courts for torts committed abroad. CJA’s attorneys represent plaintiffs around the world from Somalia to Cambodia.

What do you find most interesting about the work you are doing or the organization you are working for?

This area of law is incredibly interesting because it raises very complex issues of evidence and civil procedure that we have been studying over the past two years. Many of the issues have created circuit splits and are ripe for Supreme Court interpretation. Finally, the work is inspiring because I know that my contributions are helping bring justice to many victims of human rights abuses around the world.

Are you interested in public interest legal work as a career? What sort of law would you like to practice? 

I am 100 percent committed to a career involving public interest work. I am hoping to stay involved in international human rights law or to move into the area of juvenile dependency.

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