March 3, 2014 – For more than ten years, the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) has been sending students to Mexico to work as summer interns as part of a series of Mutual Cooperation Agreements between the school and prestigious Mexican institutions. The Center for U.S. and Mexican Law at UHLC assists students in participating in this exciting and unique program.
During the summer of 2013, eight UH law students immersed themselves in the Mexican culture and interned with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores or SRE), with Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), and with Mexico’s Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH).
Lauren Fisher, Olivia Mathias, and Albrecht Riepen (left to right in the above photo) worked at the SRE’s Legal Consulting Department. Olivia was entrusted with researching issues of diplomatic immunity and reviewing property contracts for Mexican embassies and consulates. “It was a very relaxed, warm, and friendly environment” says Olivia. Lauren, on the other hand, worked on a memorandum in a case where children had been taken into custody and their parents resided in different countries. The highlight of her experience was observing an international abduction hearing. “It was fascinating to see the differences in the way the court was run and the interactions between family members and government officials” adds Lauren.
PEMEX, the eighth largest oil company in the world, welcomed UHLC students Karolina Murguía and Michael Poynter at the PEMEX headquarters in Mexico City where they were entrusted with contract drafting and researching international conventions. Attending a meeting at the Secretary of Energy, says Karolina, was a memorable experience. “Everyone in the office is very nice and open to helping students have the best experience while they are in Mexico” remarks Karolina about her time at PEMEX.
Now that the Mexican Constitution has been reformed to allow private investment in Mexico’s hydrocarbons, the role of the CNH in regulating upstream oil production has increased significantly. The Center is currently working with the CNH to finalize a collaboration agreement that would provide for similar opportunities for UHLC students. Last summer, three students were able to intern at CNH’s legal department. UHCL students Marcelo Hoffman, John Riggs, and Laurence Tokaz were tasked with researching best practices, standards, and safety regulations of shale hydraulic fracturing in North American and European countries.
“Spending time as a law clerk in a foreign country is an invaluable experience for any law student. The student learns first-hand not only about the law but also about the culture in which the law operates” said Professor Stephen Zamora, Executive Director of the Center.
The Center has made its selection of the next wave of UHLC students to participate in this exciting and greatly rewarding program.