International Outreach: Law student served as summer intern at Ghana Supreme Court

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PHOTO COURTESY OF JUSTIN WEBER

by Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Justin Weber may have decided to go to law school on a whim—but the decision is certainly working out well for him. Awarded an International Public Interest Law Fellowship, the Wayne Law student interned this past summer with Justice Jones Victor Dotse on the Supreme Court of Ghana in Accra.

“Working for the Supreme Court of Ghana came with a lot of responsibilities not typically given to rising 3L students,” Weber says. “I was writing opinions for researching and writing opinions for a Supreme Court Justice, some of which helped to decide cases. Knowing that my writing helped to mold Ghanaian law was incredible.

“Aside from the work, the people were amazing. Everyone welcomed me in like family, despite being from so far away, both in distance and culture.”

Weber was in Ghana during the rainy season.

“Don’t be fooled—rainy season meant it rained maybe five times in the two months I was in Accra—however, the rain we did get meant it was relatively cool during my stay there,” he says. “It was regularly in the mid-80s with high humidity, but never got much higher than the low to mid 90s.”    

Weber, who previously studied in Germany and has visited Austria, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands Costa Rica, and Japan, enjoyed traveling to rural northern Ghana to visit the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary and to see elephants on safari, and exploring the Makola market in “Makola has just about anything someone would want to shop for,” he says. “I bought a lot of clothes, from dress shirts and pants to shoes. I brought back a few soccer jerseys as it seems the leftover stock from Europe and the U.S. gets sent in bulk to Africa to be resold at a much cheaper price.    

“The food in Ghana consists of a lot of fish—tilapia is a specialty—as well as soups and stews. Ghanaian food is generally spicy, and almost always eaten with bare hands. Overall, I was not a fan of the food because I’m not much of a fish person, but every other visitor I spoke to loved Ghanaian food. I visited a few of the Accra beaches, I’ve heard the beaches outside of the city are much nicer and more calm.”

An alumnus of the University of Michigan with a degree in psychology, Weber decided law school would be the best way for him to apply skills to help others.

“I think psychology helps the most when you are face to face with a client counseling them,” he says. “It just broadly helps communication, being able to read people, and knowing how to keep what would be very emotional issues fairly calm.”

Taking a broad range of classes to experience many different areas of the law, his major interest is International Law and last year he served as president of the International Law Students Association. With the help of Professor Gregory Fox, the association brought in speakers to talk about such topics as the Iran nuclear deal, the International Criminal Court, and invited Wayne Law alumni practicing international law to speak about their experiences.

“In international law, especially public international law, it’s incredibly interesting to see how other countries can come together and settle disputes,” Weber says. “You end up with an area of the law that has so many interesting aspects since it’s so hard to create binding rules between countries. This inevitably leads to some very creative rules and arguments that can be crafted around international laws.”   

Weber previously worked for Wayne Law’s Free Legal Aid Clinic, counseling Detroit residents on family and elder law matters, and will be returning to the Clinic next semester. He also will work in the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic this upcoming semester.

“The best part about Wayne Law is the people you meet, how great and accessible the professors are, and personally, the Program for International Legal Studies, under Professor Fox, has been an amazing resource,” Weber is under consideration for positions in the Army and Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) programs and would like to become a military lawyer eventually practicing international/operations law or move into national security.

“Being a member of the JAG Corps means you get thrown into the fire and are practicing a ton of fields of law right out of the gate,” he says. “It’s also one of the only places to jump right into public international law dealing with the many US military installments in other countries.    

“I would love to some day be involved in national security law or cyber-security law, and JAG provides a great gateway into those fields.”

A native of Bridgman in Berrien County, on Michigan’s southwest coast, and a graduate of Bridgman High School, Weber now makes his home in midtown Detroit. 

“I grew up in a small town, so I like how Detroit is a big city but without being as busy and overwhelming as a city like New York or Chicago,” he says. “I love the sense of community, everyone has so much pride about the city.”

In his leisure time Weber enjoys building and working on computers, and playing and watching sports.

“I played football for a long time and still love to watch mainly college football—and I’ve played intramural basketball both at Michigan and Wayne State,” he says. “I’ve also recently gotten very interested in international soccer, and was able to attend a Ghanaian League soccer match in the National Stadium in Accra.”

 

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