International Fellowships

International Fellows are the backbone of the ILF’s success in its program countries. The ILF’s Natalie Rea International Fellows are lawyers with at least five years of criminal defense, prosecution, or judicial experience who volunteer to work and live abroad on three-month assignments. International Fellows mentor local lawyers day-in and day-out, case-by-case, to help develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective public defenders to poor and marginalized accused. Through this process, International Fellows make pivotal, concrete contributions to rule of law reform. The work includes mentoring and assisting the ILF’s local staff lawyers as they visit clients in jail, write motions, make court appearances and conduct investigations; as well as helping plan and execute training modules for members of the local bar and judiciary. Fellows may also participate in meetings with government officials, other NGOs, and donor countries involved in rule of law projects, as representatives of the ILF.

Since 2001, over 50 Fellows from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have helped transform the role of local lawyers in Afghanistan, Nepal and the West Bank from passive participants in the criminal justice system to proactive advocates for their clients. As a direct result, clients languishing in detention have been released, police and prosecutor abuses have been addressed and curtailed, and many innocent accused have been acquitted. Fellows have influenced judges to change policies and practices from the bench, and have helped win landmark legal victories in court that have improved local justice systems.

The International Fellows program provides experienced criminal justice attorneys the opportunity to have a direct, positive impact on their fellow attorneys abroad, and in the process contribute to the sustainable development of countries at a pivotal transition point.

Current Openings

Click on the attachments below for country program-specific position announcements:

2019-2020  Strategic Litigation Fellowship Afghanistan

2019-2020 Juvenile Justice Fellowship, Myanmar

2019 Tunisia Fellowship

2019 Myanmar Fellowship

2019 Rakhine Fellowship

2019-2020 West Bank Fellowship

The History of the Fellows Program

ILF International Fellows not only share a common experience, but they also share a common spirit, that of Kathryn Wadia, after whom they were originally named. Kathryn was a beloved attorney with The Legal Aid Society who held, at her core, a fundamental sense of justice. Before law school, Kathryn worked at the Georgia Indigent Defense Council and the Southern Center for Human Rights, both in Atlanta. While at Loyola Law School in New Orleans, she clerked at the Orleans Parish Indigent Defender Program and the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project in Washington, D.C. Her honors included the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Scholarship and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center Public Service. Kathryn died at the age of 36 on April 30, 2004 of breast cancer. ILF Fellows carry out the dream Kathryn longed to fulfill: ensuring that justice be done in every corner of the world, no matter the distance or challenge.

Upon ILF founder Natalie Rea’s retirement from the position of Executive Director, the then-ten-year-old Fellows program was renamed in her honor, in recognition of her vision in creating the Fellows program. Rea first envisioned this Fellowship model in 1997 when, as a volunteer observer for the genocide trials in Rwanda, she realized that there were virtually no attorneys available to represent the indigent accused. Moved by this injustice, Rea mobilized a small group of U.S. defense lawyers to volunteer to provide basic pre-trial representation to detainees accused of genocide in Rwanda.

Financial Support

Your support for the Rea Fellowship will allow us to continue to transform the lives of poor people living in areas disrupted by conflict. International Fellows work pro bono, and require only a modest monthly stipend to cover their basic living expenses. Because the ILF employs local lawyers to represent clients, utilizes Fellows, and maintains a small international staff in New York, you can be sure that your donation will have a significant impact on the communities that the ILF serves.

To support the Natalie Rea Fellowship now, please go to:

More About the International Fellows

The Fellows’ Impact Worldwide

Over the last 10 years, the ILF fellows have dedicated thousands of hours to mentoring local lawyers and ensuring greater protection for the rights of indigent accused persons around the world.

• In Afghanistan, fellows assisted litigation which led to the abolition of debtor’s prisons, which had routinely imprisoned poor people for failure to repay debts and fines.

• In Nepal, fellows have helped persuade judges to recognize and enforce the right to a speedy trial, protecting the rights of prisoners illegally detained for months or years without trial.

• With the support of fellows, the ILF’s local lawyers in the West Bank persuaded the courts to allow juveniles to obtain free legal aid without a parent’s signature, a practice that had created unnecessary delays and excessive pretrial detention of juveniles.

International Fellows in their Own Words

“Working with Natalie Rea in Rwanda, in a prison crisscrossed with laundry lines and crammed with inmates in pink outfits, was a life-altering experience for me. Fifteen years later, as a legal academic, I still draw from experiences in Rwanda in how I teach law, think about the role of criminal trials in achieving justice, and try to understand the role of the individual within collective violence.”

Professor Mark Drumbl, Fellow, Legal Aid Rwanda
Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, Virginia

“I was struck by, among other things, the courage of the ILF lawyers to fight against unlawful imprisonment in the face of police unwillingness to allow for attorney visits at the detention centers. Spending six months in Nepal working alongside the ILF team gave me a renewed sense of purpose and passion to fight for clients back home in Brooklyn. It made me realize how these extraordinary public defenders are true champions for human rights.”

Adam Heyman, Fellow, ILF-Nepal
Defense Attorney, Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn, New York


Watch former International Fellows Adam Heyman and Stephen Lawrence discuss their experiences at ILF-Nepal and ILF-West Bank:

Past International Fellows

The ILF would like to thank the extraordinary fellows who have donated their time and expertise to the International Fellows program to date:

Legal Aid Rwanda: Prof. Mark Drumbl • Lynn Grano • Anita Kashu • Susan Kriete • Maura Lee • Scott Requadt

ILF-Afghanistan: Noel Casey • Trish Cheverie • The Honorable Mary McGowan Davis • Kenneth Deluca • Robert Fogelnest • Dorothea Grieger • Angela Krueger • Patricia Lavelle • Karena Rahall • Mary Ross • Rachel Saunders • Michael Skibbie • Benoît Turcotte • Roxanne Vachon

ILF-Nepal: Daniel Alterman • Liyah Brown • Sol Davis • Melissa Dineen • Aileen Donnelly • Adam Heyman • Angela Krueger • Priya Lakhe • Susan Lee • Kesha Louis • Nicola Manning • Kenneth Plotz • Lisa Polansky • Bejal Shah • Jacob Stevens • Deborah Trevino • Roxanne Vachon

ILF-West Bank: Amber Baylor • Daniel Breger • Gabby Brown • Shama Farooq • Stephen Lawrence • Marie-Pierre Py • Theresa Ristenpart • Brian Roberts • Roxanne Vachon

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