October 29, 2007
Internship Program on Alternative
Lawyering Kicks off
Sixteen law students started their internship program on alternative
lawyering on 29 October 2007 at the Ateneo Law School, Makati.
Organized by the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) and supported
by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), the program is designed
to give law students the experience of living with poor communities.
Interns will experience first-hand the poor’s struggle for
justice and their difficulties in getting the necessary support
from the legal system.
The program is a mix of theoretical instruction and practical
experience. The first thing they learn is that “alternative
lawyering” is actually a misnomer — making
the law work for those most in need of its protection
should actually be the mainstream. The fact that
it has come to be seen as “alternative” goes to show
the deep flaws in the legal system.
The participants are then exposed to many of the various legal
issues facing the poor: human rights, environmental law, land
issues, women’s rights, indigenous people’s rights
and others. This is followed by the immersion phase in remote
areas of Mindoro.
The internship program allows participants to learn about other
realities, about the way people struggle, and most crucially,
it puts names and faces to abstract concepts like “the poor,”
“the marginalized” and “the oppressed.”
“Most people generally know that there are flaws in the
legal systems, and that change is needed,” said FNF Resident
Representative Siegfried Herzog. “But people work for change
only when they feel this need in their hearts. The AHRC internship
program helps interns take the step from abstract knowledge
to keenly felt need
that is the basis for real
,” he added. “It does this in the context
of their study of the law. They learn how the legal system relates,
or fails to relate, to the needs of the people who should be its
The AHRC program has been running since the late 80s. More than
600 participants have completed the internship. Many have gone
on to become mainstays of human rights organizations, legal aid
institutions or other forms of organizations involved in public