Spotlight on 2011 PILF Grantee, Lauren Winkler

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.

She Knows What She Wants.  3L, Lauren Winkler Recounts An Inspiring Summer Working in Washington, D.C.

Lauren Winkler is from Slidell, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans.  She attended Southeastern Louisiana University as and undergraduate where she majored in English with a concentration in creative writing.  This past summer she worked at the Indian Law Resource Center in Washington, D.C.

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

I chose law school because I wanted to impact the world in a big, positive way. Before attending law school, I was interested in international human rights issues, and I was involved with my campus’ chapter of Amnesty International. USF was my first choice because of its focus on public interest law and its international human rights clinic. I felt compelled to be part of a community that was focused on helping others.

What kind of work did you do this summer?

This summer, I worked at the Indian Law Resource Center in Washington, D.C. The Center’s mission is to protect indigenous peoples rights in South, Central, and North America. Specifically, the office in Washington is involved in international indigenous peoples rights and provides legal representation for communities to help protect land rights and cultural sights, and it helps in promoting tribes’ cultural preservation.

I worked largely on litigation.  I researched and drafted documents having to do with the Rapa Nui case, which will go forth in the Inter-American Commission. I also worked on a case based in Guatemala. In addition to litigation, I worked on the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a project of the OAS. I also worked on other domestic policy issues regarding the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States.

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

I think the most inspiring thing about my work is the people I work with. Not only are my supervisors incredibly knowledgeable and experienced in the human rights field, but they are passionate about the issues even after doing it for thirty years. Sometimes in law school, one’s view of the world becomes hyper-focused on resume-building or to-do lists, and we forget why we enrolled in the first place. Working at the Indian Law Resource Center has reminded me of my passion and has made me realize that I will be able to help people in a big way.

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

I am interested in public interest legal work as a career. Ultimately, I want to practice Indian law and develop domestic Indian policy as well as international indigenous peoples rights policy (basically, exactly what I’m doing at the Center).

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