Student spends portion of summer interning at Costa Rica Supreme Court

Josef Raszewski, 3L, spent the second part of this past summer in the sunshine and warmth of Costa Rica. His time was not spent adoring the vast wildlife, relaxing in the coastal waters, or vacationing in the tropical climate but rather working as an intern at the Constitutional Chambers of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica through a special Academic Cooperation Agreement Duquesne Kline School of Law has with the Court. This experience proved to be invaluable to him. Raszewski gained knowledge about a different justice system than the one in the United States and had the opportunity to work on important cases. 

“I’m not allowed to go into detail, but I did work on a very important case for the Supreme Court of Costa Rica. I was surprised at how much involvement I had. The decision was very influential for the country,” Raszewski said. 

He went into the internship at Costa Rica with little familiarity of the country but embraced the opportunity to learn about it and its legal system. “I did not know much about Costa Rica but heard about this internship from Professor Robert Barker in International Law. As soon as I heard about it, I thought it would be a fantastic experience,” Raszewski said.

He additionally welcomed the chance to study in real time the Spanish language and to hone a working knowledge of it. “I didn’t know any Spanish and I went from being semi-conversational to conversational. I’m not fluent but had to do most of my talking in Spanish. My host mother Xinia Flores did not know any English and she was amazing. She and her daughter Fabbi taught me a lot of Spanish. I had to jump into Spanish frequently, so when I heard it, I was translating from Spanish to English and back in my head,” he said. 

While in Costa Rica, Raszewski interned for Justice Salazar and Justice Fernando Castillo. They and their staff shared confidence in him, and he is grateful for the unique legal experiences they provided to him. 

“I was very lucky to have the opportunity to write a 20-page brief/ memo of law of the United States and Costa Rica. It was a very interesting case. My boss, who was my connection to the Supreme Court, asked me for that paper. We discussed so much,” said Raszewski.

Traveling abroad opens a new world, one in which Raszewski felt prepared to enter. He had spent the beginning of his summer with an externship with the Federal Bankruptcy Courts of Western Pennsylvania. That, coupled with his Duquesne Kline law background afforded him the confidence to undertake this experience.

“In the first year you learn your foundation of law. Duquesne Kline did fantastic job of that, especially in legal writing and research. My professor, Jan Levine, gave me the tools to really be able to do this research. Courses like international law and constitutional law with Professor Ledewitz and a variety of contract and corporate courses really helped. I knew it; at a certain point you internally know law and know it is developing and moving trends. Duquesne Kline really teaches you to be a good lawyer. I’m glad I trained with Duquesne Kline before I went to the Costa Rican courts,” said Raszewski.

Now in his last year of law school, Raszewski acknowledges this experience changed him and adapted his post-graduation plans. He said, “Out of law school, I’d like to work in Costa Rica because it was such an amazing experience and I practically have family down there now. Or I’d like to work in a U.S. firm with a branch in Costa Rica or a company or corporation that would need a U.S. attorney to deal with corporate law.” 

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September 27, 2023