Alumnus Heads to South Africa to Clerk for Constitutional Court

This month, recent graduate Drew F. Cohen, J.D./M.B.A. '12, B.A. '98, will wrap up his clerkship working in New York for a judge at the U.S. Court of International Trade and travel to South Africa to begin a clerkship with the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

"I am both excited and humbled to contribute to the Court, whose holdings provide guidance to communities across the world," Cohen said.

"The Court, as well as the country, is still in the early stages of developing its constitutional democracy—the High Court, for instance, only recently came into existence and some of the sitting justices had an active hand in drafting the constitution.  Working with colleagues, advocates, and judges who play such a leading role in molding the country's acute sense of equality and justice will invariably deepen my understanding of how the law works in practice while affording me a unique opportunity to integrate into the larger, global legal community."

Only five foreign law clerks are appointed at any time and usually at most only one or two come from the United States.

"This is an incredible opportunity for Drew, I cannot imagine having a more interesting position so soon out of law school, and I am not surprised about this great news as Drew is a most able graduate and attorney," said comparative constitutional law expert Professor David Fontana.

Speaking about his time at GW Law and how it prepared him for his two clerkships and career, Cohen said, "At GW Law, I was exposed to a barrage of international and constitutional law seminars, conferences and debates.  A few weeks into my first year, I attended a lecture delivered by Ra'id Juhi Hamadi Al Saedi, chief investigative judge for the trial of Saddam Hussein.  Al Saedi spoke about the difficulties of squaring many Iraqis notion of justice with the realities of the tribunal's powers. Professor Fontana's Comparative Law seminar was an equally formative experience.  The class explored alternative systems and theories of law and grabbled with what applications—if any—the U.S. justice system could draw from comparative analyses.  Professor Fontana has continued to provide guidance and was one of the first people I spoke to about clerking abroad."

Last March, while Cohen was still a student at GW Law obtaining a joint-degree with the School of Business, he published an editorial on Citizens United and corporate disclosure of super PAC contributions in USA Today. In "Corporate Disclosure of Super PAC Contributions," Cohen explained, "Although shareholders can protest political messages by selling their stock, firms usually disclose their contributions, if at all, after they have already donated them. Shareholders are thus stuck, without recourse, prospectively footing the bill."

- CD