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Third year DePaul Law student makes a global impact

DePaul Law 3L Emily Steinert's
Emily Steinert's accomplishments have earned her the Solovy Diversity Scholarship, a Cudahy Fellowship, and a Public Interest Law Association Fellowship, among other awards.
Currently in her final year at DePaul University College of Law, Emily Steinert already has established an impressive legal resume. Dedicated to international human rights law, with particular interests in asylum law and women's rights, Steinert was selected for a prestigious internship last summer at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, Netherlands (“ICTY”).

Steinert's passion to protect every individual’s human rights led her towards developing a career that would allow her to work on issues affecting vulnerable people on a large scale. “I am specifically moved by the struggles of people who endure vulnerable life situations out of no fault of their own.” Steinert continued, “instead of supporting each individual human being to achieve their highest potential, systems of global inequality tend to distinctly and negatively impact already vulnerable populations.” She recognized that a legal education would provide her with the best opportunities to learn how policy is made and, more importantly, how it can be changed. She was specifically drawn to DePaul Law because of its expertise and legacy in international human rights law, which includes DePaul’s International Human Rights Law I​nstitute, its international human rights law courses, and dedicated faculty and staff.

The faculty and administration have been similarly impressed with Steinert. Elisabeth Ward, the executive director of the International Human Rights Law Institute and director of Global Initiatives, explains, “Emily is a passionate student who brings a unique energy to the classroom. Her passion inspires those around her and ultimately led her to The Hague.” Similarly, Elizabeth Boe, assistant director of the Center for Public Interest Law​, Law Career Services, considers Steinert’s “fantastic experience, obtained due to her professional experiences, strong academic work, and involvement in DePaul’s various human rights and public interest programs, highly demonstrative of the College of Law’s global engagement and international law program.”

Steinert’s passion for international human rights law helped her secure the competitive internship at the ICTY in the Office of the Prosecutor, in both the Appeals and Immediate Office divisions this past summer. Her responsibilities in this role included researching international law regarding sexual and gender-based violence, drafting internal memoranda regarding international law issues, drafting witness summaries, and reviewing closed case files.

Steinert applied for the highly competitive internship at the ICTY after completing DePaul Law's Post-Conflict Justice course. This course explores the ways in which international bodies and local communities have responded to mass atrocities in the post-WWII era. One component of the course focuses on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the international community’s response. In an effort to bring justice to victims and to hold war criminals individually accountable, United Nations Security Council created the ICTY under Chapter VII powers of the UN Charter in 1993. As the ICTY prepares to close at the end of 2017, the legacy of the tribunal has received significant international attention. The ICTY helped to establish greater peace and security in the Balkans region by holding war criminals criminally responsible under international law. Additionally, the ICTY assisted in the creation of future international criminal tribunals, including hybrid tribunals and the International Criminal Court.

Steinert was also drawn to the ICTY in part because of its connections with DePaul’s International Human Rights Law Institute. The College of Law played a significant role in the creation and development of the ICTY through Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni. Professor Bassiouni was the co-founder of the International Human Rights Law Institute and served as its President Emeritus until his death in September 2017. During the 1990s, Professor Bassiouni served as one of the ICTY's chief architects through his role leading the United Nations Commission of Experts, and earned a global reputation for protesting human rights violations throughout his lifetime.

In addition to her internship at the ICTY and completing extensive human rights law coursework, Steinert has acquired other valuable experiences at DePaul Law that emphasize her dedication to human rights and public interest work. For example, while enrolled in the Asylum and Immigration​ Clinic, Steinert represented a domestic violence victim from Central America in the client’s asylum claim before the immigration court. Steinert also had the opportunity to travel abroad with the International Human Rights Law Practicum in January 2017, where she participated in conducting on-the-ground research and drafting a shadow report to an United Nations international human rights law committee regarding sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya.

Steinert has also gained experience in human rights and public interest law through a variety of professional experiences. During her first summer as a law student, Steinert divided her time between working as a pro bono extern with Holland & Knight (in an exclusive program for DePaul Law developed by alumnus George Pearce) and also as a legal policy intern for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). As a third-year student, Steinert works as an asylum and international law research assistant for asylum expert and DePaul Ombudsperson Craig Mousin, where she prepared a comprehensive study on religious asylum cases in the United States to determine whether they utilized the International Religious Freedom Act. She also works for Professor Sioban Albiol as a research assistant to the Illinois Legal Services Committee for Immigrants.

Steinert has been recognized for her achievements and dedication to human rights and public interest in a variety of settings. For example, she is a Center for Public Interest Law Honors Scholar and has earned several prestigious awards and fellowships, including the Solovy Diversity Scholarship from the Diversity Scholarship Foundation, a Cudahy Fellowship from the Center for Public Interest Law​, and a Public Interest Law Association Fellowship.

During her final year at DePaul, Steinert is serving as the Symposium Editor for the DePaul Law Review​ and as president of the International Human Rights Law Institute Student Board. After graduating in May 2018, she plans to pursue a career in international human rights law with a focus on policy and advocacy efforts. Steinert feels passionately that “in addition to vital direct service provision to vulnerable populations, public policy and advocacy initiatives are necessary and important tools for advocates to utilize in order to bring actual, positive changes to society.” After graduation, Steinert hopes to join an organization focused on international human rights law issues where she will contribute towards efforts to protect vulnerable populations from human rights abuses. ​​