By Andrew Cohen
While many of his fellow Berkeley Law graduates are hunkering down in their practice areas this fall at Bay Area law firms, Asa Solway ’09 will be living and working thousands of miles away in the tiny and troubled Republic of Sierra Leone.
Solway is the first participant in a new fellowship program, sponsored in part by Berkeley Law, assisting government agencies in the beleaguered West African country. Organized by Peter Maybarduk ’07 and International Human Rights Law Clinic program officer Jamie O’Connell, the program recruits young legal professionals to support various ministries in Sierra Leone’s government.
Solway says he’s excited but realistic about what to expect. “I enjoy a challenge,” he says, “and this certainly qualifies.”
After graduating from Colgate University, Solway taught English as a second language to students in Oakland’s underfunded public schools. In law school, he squeezed in two summers and a full semester working in The Hague as an extern at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Solway has been assigned to Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will work there for at least one year. “Sierra Leone faces major problems like poverty, widespread corruption, and violence against women that have led to great inequality and social injustice,” he says. “But the new government is very proactive, and I look forward to doing legal work that supports public policy initiatives and promotes the rule of law.”
Under the auspices of Berkeley Law’s Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, Solway will work as a research fellow in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city. A blog documenting his experiences will be featured on the Miller Institute’s Web site.
While honored to be the fellowship program’s first Berkeley participant, Solway says “the important thing is to get as many interested students as possible to come over and help.”
After graduating in May, Solway will take the California Bar Exam in July. A month later he’ll jet to Freetown and begin work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It’s a new program and I know there will be surprises along the way,” says Solway. “But everyone I know who’s been to Sierra Leone says it was one of the most transformative experiences of their life, and that made it easier for me to take this leap.”
For more information on the program and to learn how you can get involved, contact Peter Maybarduk at firstname.lastname@example.org.