Week 12: Experience in Chile: A Review
By Elizabeth Pietanza
Looking back at the past three months, I see that I have gained a tremendous understanding of how a legal system functions both domestically and internationally. Most notably, I learned that Chile provides a successful example of the relationship between criminal reform and free trade. Establishing the rule of law in Chile has provided a foundation for legitimacy and has promoted the use of transparency within the government. In addition to improving criminal justice and providing due process, a reliable and predictable judiciary can enforce corporate governance and investment disputes, and prevent and redress such issues as expropriation. Such assurances give confidence to investors and encourages economic development.
I learned that the relationship between criminal reform and economic development is actually a reciprocal one. Economic development, in the wake of legal reform, adds force to the very ideas, principles and practices espoused by the rule of law. Because economic reform requires increased transparency, accountability and process efficiency, it actually reinforces the ideas of legal development. In other words, the reform is useless if not used, and reference to a new system through capable dispute resolution reinforces trust in the system.
My internship also exposed me to the ideas of how to structure future free trade agreements. I learned that the US-Chile FTA is important for at least three reasons: Chile has successfully implemented judicial reform and the rule of law, and thus can attest to the relation between the rule of law and economic development; it provides a trial period with the Latin American market without posing a serious threat to US producers; and it sets a standard for future free trade agreements in the intellectual property, labor and environment areas. With this sequencing model in mind - rule of law and free trade with social responsibility - free trade agreements can, as President Lagos believes, be a power that improves the living standards and social development of the people of the Americas.
I learned about these issues, in addition to doing the client and practical legal work I have previously described, in the context of a "personalized class" based entirely on my own interests and experience, otherwise known as Cal Western’s "Clinical Internship." Not only did I have the opportunity to gain practical legal experience in an international setting, but I was challenged to think about and reflect on all to which I was being exposed. What I value most about my internship in Chile is that it required me to compose my own definition of professionalism, seriously think about my place in the law, reflect on what it means to be a US attorney involved in an international practice and how I can be happy as a practicing attorney. In this internship experience, which was the most practical part of my legal training, I was able to be very reflective about my legal education.