If you've got time off post-qualification or you fancy taking a sabbatical or even a career break - there are far worse things you could do to occupy your time than volunteer on an overseas pro bono project. A Slaughter and May associate recently completed a three month placement in Sierra Leone through Advocates for International Development (A4ID) and wants to recommend it to all those with wanderlust and a dose of social conscience.
In his words:
If you are looking for something a little bit different as a career break, I can thoroughly recommend a pro bono internship at Society for Democratic Initiatives (www.sfdi-sl.org), a local human rights NGO in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
SDI is looking for interns for placements of anywhere from two months to a year and welcomes applications from law graduates up to senior associates. I have just returned to the UK having completed a three month internship after deciding on a short career break following two and a half years post qualification experience. No preference is given to your background in law; personally I have worked in an M&A group since qualification and had no prior experience in human rights law.
SDI runs various programmes including legal aid in the local high court in Freetown, impact litigation at the ECOWAS Court, defending other members of civil society and campaigning for transparency and accountability in Government. I was actively involved in all of its workstreams and a typical day could range from assisting one of SDI's barristers in court to preparing a submission for the African Commission to interviewing Government Ministers to holding workshops for other NGOs. The work is varied, interesting and a world away from corporate law in the UK! You also get to live and work in a beautiful country with amazing people and Freetown is often quoted as the safest capital city in Africa.
SDI is currently looking to recruit interns for 2011 to work alongside its permanent members and two international interns. If anyone needs any more information, please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can apply directly to the Executive Director, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, by sending a covering letter and CV to email@example.com.