2307 Union St.
Houston, Texas 77007
The Gulf Region Advocacy Center
Kate Janse van Rensburg
I began interning at GRACE after completing my first year at the University of Houston Law Center in May, 2011. In three months, I learned more about legal practice and advocacy than I had in my entire first year of school. In the course of those three months, I wrote dozens of pleadings, attended hearings, and improved my legal writing and advocacy skills to a degree I had not thought possible. The entire experience was amazing--from the knowledge I gained to the people I worked with to the people I knew I was helping. I feel like I got far more out of my summer internship than most of my classmates working for "Big Law" firms did. I didn't spend my summer writing memos--I was thrown straight into active advocacy, and it was invaluable.
I knew before starting at GRACE that I wanted to work in human rights, but I was unsure of in what capacity. The amazing dedication, passion, hard work, and heart of the employees at GRACE solidified my decision, and I knew that captial defense was the area in which I could have the most impact on people's lives. I am still interning with GRACE, and hope to remain here once I have completed my J.D.
I was an intern from Reprieve UK between October 2010 and April 2011. I lived in the intern house with a bunch of other interns from the UK and Australia and really enjoyed my experience. The work varied from really interesting legal research and writing to in-depth client background investigation. I travelled within Texas working on cases and met with one of our clients on death row. I learnt a huge amount about the realities of this area of practice and the experience has given me invaluable skills that I hope to put to use back in England as a trainee-barrister. It was great to be part of a tight-knit office community who all pull together to do such important work.
Outside of work it was great to be able to hang out with the other interns and to meet the locals. I got to enjoy the beautiful Houston weather and the fantastic southern food and hospitality. If it wasn’t for law school to go back to I would have happily stayed for another 6 months and can’t recommend volunteering with GRACE strongly enough!
From November 2010 through to February 2011, I completed an internship at GRACE through Reprieve Australia.
Volunteering at GRACE offered the unique experience to work in a foreign country, to learn the intricacies of an unfamiliar legal system, and to acquire practical professional skills. My day-to-day role as an intern included extensive legal research, systematic file management, preparation of team documents and briefs, and thorough investigation.
The skills and knowledge I acquired from my time at GRACE were invaluable, and the people I had the opportunity to work with were an absolute inspiration. I formed strong friendships with my fellow interns as we shared the joys of small triumphs and successes, as well as our frustrations concerning the confines of an alarmingly diluted and skewed criminal justice system clutching capital punishment at its pinnacle.
The insights I gained from GRACE have not only influenced my perspectives on the law, but also the direction of my career. Working in such an environment was bound to present personal, professional, and emotional challenges, but the satisfaction of overcoming these challenges and persevering for a just cause was in itself a reward, and as such, inspired me to make certain I realize my aspirations to pursue a career in criminal law.
My internship experience was underscored by GRACE’s astounding, resilient commitment to justice and human life in the arduous struggle to reclaim integrity in law. My time at GRACE will forever remain a constant reminder of the value of equal justice before the law, and the worth of each and every human life. I developed great respect and appreciation for all those involved with GRACE, and indeed all those who are unreservedly continuing the fight against capital punishment. Being a part of that movement was extraordinarily rewarding, and exceptionally humbling.
Thank you, GRACE, for being the utmost inspiration.
I was an intern at GRACE from February 2003 to August 2003. Initially I was one of three interns working with Danalynn. During my time there I worked on a case based in Louisiana, undertaking post trial investigation. We worked as agents for a court appointed attorney, travelling throughout Louisiana and Texas to meet with witnesses, jurors, and the client's family members. This culminated in the filing of a state habeas petition shortly before the end of my internship. Since my internship I have continued to regularly meet with the interns that I shared this time with, and continue to support GRACE and Reprieve. I have qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and currently practice family law.
I interned at GRACE in 2007 for three months, the experience was intense and invaluable. Seeing the daily struggle to save lives at GRACE was humbling, and I have an enormous amount of respect for the people who work on the front line of anti- death penalty campaign. Learning about some of the client's lives in great detail through record collection was deeply moving and the experience has helped me to decide to train as a social worker which I am now doing in London.