Friday, July 20, 2012

Pirates and the Law Student in My House

Yes, for real, pirates.  Real pirates.

Gregarious Son is a law student, about to embark upon his third and final year of school.  Fascinated by the courses he took in international law this past year, and much influenced by a professor who has served as a consultant to courts trying piracy cases, he decided to try to invent a summer internship for himself.  And, as he puts it, approximately 200 emails later he was off to The Seychelles for the summer to clerk for a judge who has, as it turns out, has concluded two piracy cases this summer.

The Seychelles is a small nation made up of an archipelago of 115 islands, three of them inhabited, in the Indian Ocean, east of the African continent and north of Madagascar.  Matt posted a map after a French naval crewmember involved in the first case of the summer testified that Seychelles was located in the Atlantic off the coast of Brazil.  He said that the attorneys all found her testimony quite amusing, but the judge did not.

If you have heard of The Seychelles, it may be because William and Kate honeymooned there!  Matt is spending the summer in a small rented condo on one of the most spectacular islands on earth.

He's been able to enjoy the natural beauty of the islands ~

how is it that we don't live in a place where you could step out one door into a lake and out another onto a beach? ~

while working in a tropical island courthouse, in contrast to an American high rise

and attending the celebrations for Seychelles National Day.  The Republic of Seychelles gained its independence from Britain in 1976.  Its history as a target of European colonial aspirations is reflected in its British court system and French and Creole languages.  English is the official language of the government.

Piracy is a crime subject to international jurisdiction, because it takes place on the "high seas" ~ which I thought was a Pirates of the Caribbean phrase intended to heighten drama, but is actually a legal term for "international waters."  The Seychelles has been eager to take on a role of responsibility in prosecuting pirates, given its proximity to Somalia, the source of much pirate activity, but has little in the way of resources to enable such litigation.  A U.N. grant pays for many of the administrative costs of the court, but there is no money for legal staff.  Matt is there on a grant and loan combination.  This is not a financially lucrative summer for him, but the experience is, as the commercial says, priceless.  The judge for whom he works has been  extraordinarily generous in sharing the workload, showing him around, and including him in all aspects of the cases, which raise many issues not yet determined by treaty, statute, or precedent.  Herewith, some of the evidence in the case just concluded:

In what looks to have been perhaps the highlight of the summer, Matt and the Judge

spent a day on a French reconnaissance vessel

to observe a training exercise in pirate capture, which involves helicopters and ski-doos (when Matt posted this, he referenced The Ride of the Valkyries)

and to discuss evidence-gathering requirements with the ship's captain and crew.

I don't know about the rest of you attorneys out there, but I have no recollection of my legal internships looking anything like Matt's!


  1. Fabulous! Loved reading about Matt's adventures. Bet he isn't looking forward to returning to law school after his fascinating and exotic summer internship!

    1. Yeah, I don't think the Wills and Trusts course is going to have any appeal for him.

  2. I want to live somewhere with beach and lake right outside my door...what an extraordinary opportunity!

  3. Well, he didn't get to live in that one -- but he did go to another island for a week-end, so I'm wondering if that's where he stayed.

  4. I'm thinking I married the wrong lawyer! WOW! And you are, as we already knew, an excellent storyteller, Robin!

  5. What a wonderful experience! It sounds like a dream-internship. Good for him!

  6. I just knew this morning that it was time for a career change: become a lawyer in the Seychelles. Oh, yes, it's Monday too.

  7. From opposite starting points, our lives (and your son's, and my SIL's, lives) intersect again. Maybe the most exciting summer internship I have ever heard of.

  8. This is amazing! Do you recall which judge he interned for?
    I'm studying international law, too, and am interested in piracy issues.