I always tell people the Geneva Externship program is why I decided to attend the University of Michigan Law School.

Before law school, I dreamed of working at the United Nations, USAID, or a similar organization. 

Through my research, I learned you are literally competing with a global pool of talent to snag a UN job, not to mention the UN generally requires working proficiency in at least two UN languages. 

Knowing this, it seemed magical that getting accepted into the Geneva Externship program guaranteed an internship spot at the UN or a related organization. 

About the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

I was placed at the World Intellectual Property Organization, a UN specialized agency. To be very succinct, WIPO allows creators to register a patent, trademark, or other intellectual property once in their home country and have it recognized in a number of treaty countries. 

To give a sense of the breadth of WIPO’s mission, the treaty dealing with patents has 156 contracting states. This process helps level the playing field for small creators or creators in developing nations by allowing them to register intellectual property in their home country and internationally without having to incur costly legal expenses in all the jurisdictions they seek protection. 

WIPO also administers a treaty that helps relax copyright laws to promote publishing works for the visually impaired. So, WIPO’s impact is genuine and far-reaching.

My Work in the WIPO Office of Legal Counsel

While at the WIPO, I was placed in the in-house legal team–the Office of Legal Counsel. Ironically, none of my work involved IP. 

Instead, I primarily focused on public international law and organization legal matters. In terms of public international law, I worked on projects involving interpreting and analyzing treaties. It was a privilege to work on these projects, as the number of legal practitioners in this area is tiny. 

For in-house legal matters, I was involved in a new cybersecurity task force and various employment matters, as well as research relating to tax exemptions for international organizations. That was particularly enjoyable as I had an interest in tax. 

It was a privilege to work on these projects, as the number of legal practitioners in this area is tiny.

I also had the opportunity to attend a meeting among WIPO member states, which was just like the UN meetings on TV, with the interpreters sitting in booths with headphones on. I also attended a UN-wide meeting where hundreds of employees were protesting a proposed reduction in UN salaries. There truly was never a dull day as something interesting was always going on at WIPO or around the UN, all against the backdrop of picturesque Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps.

Following my graduation in 2017, I became a tax attorney at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Atlanta. The WIPO line always gets the most attention on my resume, and I have not come across another attorney whose law school offered a similar experience. 

Professionally and personally, my time at WIPO was invaluable. To this day, I still shake my head in disbelief that I was able to participate in such an amazing externship program.