• Name: Mark Rowe
  • University: Australian National University (Canberra, Australia)
  • Degree: BA/ LLB
  • Intern Date: Nov - Dec, 2016

In the first half of the summer holidays, I packed my bags and headed to beautiful, sunny Samoan capital of Apia to undertake an internship at the Samoan Law Reform Commission. The Commission was set up in 2008 with its legislated mandate to keep Samoa’s laws in a modern state, promote development in Samoa and to promote Samoan custom and traditions. Under this broad remit, during the internship I was lucky to have been involved in a variety of diverse projects. These included a project on Samoa drug law reform as well as a proposed reform to the Civil Procedure Rules.

The work itself involves putting into practice everything I have learnt studying law. It is not enough to just know the law, rather, this internship makes you ask why is a particular law suitable or unsuitable, and how can it be enhanced in line with local customs and practices. It is one thing to do Litigation, it is quite another (and much more fascinating) to explore how a civil procedure system should work or indeed what approach Samoa should take to so-called legal highs.

The Samoan legal system has many things in common with its common law counterparts. Nevertheless, chiefs, traditional village practices and forms of landholding operate side-by-side with Acts and Regulations that look very familiar to Australian eyes.

Above and beyond the interesting work, I was warmly welcomed into the Samoa Law Reform Commission family. Samoan hospitality is next to none and I quickly felt at ease and valued in the office.

If you are looking for international legal experience, have an interest in development and don’t mind the look of an island paradise with stunning beaches and people, then the Samoan Law Reform Commission is for you. The option of wearing thongs to a formal legal office is definitely an added bonus.

Internships are offered throughout the year and generally last between 4-12 weeks.