University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Law Students Awarded Prestigious Fellowships for Overseas Internships

Publish Date/Time: 
May 2, 2013


Pitt Law is making a considerable impact around the globe and especially in one of the youngest countries in the world: the Republic of Kosovo. Already, one alumna, Vjosa Osmani (Pitt Law LL.M, 2005), is an esteemed member of Parliament for the landlocked Balkan nation, which declared its independence in 2008. Now Pitt Law student Drew Roberts has been awarded a Nordenberg Fellowship, allowing him to intern this summer for Osmani’s office in the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, assisting with research, legislative drafting, and preparation of legislative reports to the Member of Parliament’s office.

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No stranger to working overseas, Roberts studied abroad for one semester in the Czech Republic at Charles University in Prague and spent time in the Dominican Republic serving as an academic director at the Universal Language Exchange in San Francisco de Macorís. 

Roberts said he came to Pitt law with a desire to do meaningful work in the public international sector and to work specifically in transitional countries and international development. 
“Working in the Assembly of Kosovo will afford me the opportunity to get a first-hand experience of what it is like to participate in the infancy of the legal and political development of a nation,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he looks forward to working with Osmani, whose reputation precedes her as one of the hardest working politicians in Kosovo.
“She is truly dedicated to establishing Kosovo as a legally, economically, and politically stable and prosperous European country,” he said. “I am excited to learn from her as much as possible and do whatever I can to help her continue the incredible work she has been doing for quite some time.” In addition to Roberts, Pitt Law 1L Shelley Ostrowski also received a Nordenberg Fellowship and will intern at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya this summer. She will assist Pitt Law LL.M. graduate and Moi University Lecturer in Law Vincent Mutai to develop materials for a course on water rights law.
Ostrowski said her civil and environmental engineering degree from Notre Dame and previous work with a power company’s movement toward a more water-conscious operation gives her a unique perspective on water-related issues and has influenced her belief in the importance of access to clean water.
“Water is a fundamental human right and access to clean water can completely change a community’s way of life,” she said. “I am very excited about working with Vincent Mutai and the opportunity to delve into the legal issues surrounding water rights in Kenya.”
Pitt Law has a unique relationship and history with the Moi University School of Law located in the Kenyan Rift Valley Province. In 1995 as part of the ABA African Law Initiative, then Dean Peter Shane initiated discussions with Moi University to assist with establishing a law school. Professor John Burkoff traveled to the university to work with faculty and administrative staff in developing curricula and facilities. 
A third Pitt Law student receiving a Nordenberg Fellowship is 3L Elina Aleynikova Svistunoff. Svistunoff will be a research fellow at the Institute for European Studies (IES) in Brussels. She worked as general counsel and head of the Law Department for the Priroda Group of Companies from 2007 to 2011 and as legal counsel for the Rostov Branch of Russian Railways Logistics Corporation from 2011 to 2012.
Svistunoff will spend the summer at IES conducting comparative research on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and its European analogies.
Svistunoff said she is looking forward to meeting the team at IES and getting insight into European anti-bribery practices.
“I practiced law in Russia for six years,” Svistunoff said. “It is a country where historically bribery is a huge problem, and it still exists despite the efforts of the government to overcome it.”
Svistunoff said that she plans to practice international law in the future and that she wants her upcoming time in Belgium to enrich her international experience.
“I am certain that, while at law school, students should get as much international experience as they can, even if they intend to practice domestic law only,” she said.
The Nordenberg Fellowships are funded by the Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Professorship held by Pitt Law Professor Ronald A. Brand.
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