Thursday, September 3, 2015

Center Intern Update: Olufemi Odukoya

Read Olufemi's first blog post here.

Much of my work for this summer was done in anticipation of the Investment Expo that will happen at the end of August. This is the first time that the Business Development Center is hosting an Angel Investment expo. Angel investors will be coming from all around the US to potentially partner with local business owners. Each day of the expo, business owners will have the opportunity to present their business with the hopes of retaining investments. Many of these business owners do not have accessibility to capital and therefore have been generally limited in their growth and expansion. The right investment at the right time can be the difference maker Rwanda business men and women.

The many inherent risks for individuals wanting to invest economically and socially in developing countries can be mitigated. A side car fund is when a lead investor decides to pull in other investors together so as to limit some of these risks. It is a pooled investment vehicle that invests alongside an angel group. A side car fund allows for better diversification of resources as well as for more overall impact. The legal work I did focused on creating the incorporating documents to be used for the fund. The legal complexity of setting up the side car fund in the US in order invest in an emerging market was explored using both securities and corporate law. Local and small businesses in Rwanda will have an unprecedented influx of investments to transform entire regions of east Africa. The bottom down effective of an investment into a local business can be truly inspiring.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Regent University Ranked 15th-Most Beautiful Christian College & University Campus

Here's looking at you, Regent University.

Christian Universities Online (CUO) recently named the Virginia Beach campus one of the "50 Most Beautiful Christian College & Universities in the World."

Regent ranked 15th in the lineup of visually appealing landscape and architecture of schools from around the world; standing out in a sea from across the globe, such as International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, and Uganda Christian University in Mukono, Uganda.

Regent also placed above stateside schools such as Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and Biola University in La Mirada, California.

Regent's citation reads as follows: "Regent University’s grand 70-acre main campus in Virginia Beach is full of greenery and even has a decorative fountain with stone animals fashioned by British company Haddonstone. The site’s charming neo-Georgian architecture also belies its young age, as this interdenominational school was only set up 1978…

"Regent now has eight principal buildings on campus, including stately Robertson Hall plus its striking new chapel and divinity school. These last two were formally opened in 2013, with the chapel taking its cue from the beautiful London, England-located church St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which dates back to the 18th century."

See the complete list of The 50 Most Beautiful Christian College & University Campuses in the World.

By Brett Wilson Tubbs

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Center Intern Update: Pamela Dodge

As I return to the U.S. and begin my second year of law school, I want to share a few reflections on the personal transformation that occurred in my life this summer.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about working at International Justice Mission was the culture of the organization. The IJM staff begins every day with two spiritual disciplines: "stillness" and corporate prayer. "Stillness" is a thirty-minute block of time in which the office is quiet, and every staff member spends intentional, individual time with the Lord. At our office, stillness was followed by thirty-minutes of corporate prayer.  Every day, the staff would join together, sing a worship song, and list prayer requests for the day. Then, we would divide into groups to pray over each request.

At first I was surprised about the level of detail to which we prayed. But after the weeks went by, I became accustomed to praying every day over every aspect of our work. Some requests changed from day to day, but some requests we lifted up persistently every single day.  Every rescue, every part of each trial, every victim by name, and every IJM staff member were consistently covered in prayer.  In six short weeks, I spent 15 hours praying together with fellow believers.

In Judges 7, the Lord tells Gideon that his army contained too many men for the Lord to grant him victory. He commanded Gideon to wean down the size of the army until a mere 300 remained. Why? The Lord tells us that Israel would have become boastful and said in their hearts, "My own power has delivered me." The human heart will-whenever possible-attribute credit to itself.

The truth is, fighting human trafficking is often overwhelming and exhausting. One of the mental challenges is that nagging question in the back of my mind, Can we really bring about change when so many things are broken? I am comforted by the knowledge that our Father loves to bring about the impossible through His strength in our weakness. He loves to defeat a mighty nation with a few hundred soldiers, a giant with a shepherd and a slingshot, a fortified city with marching and trumpet sounds. He loves to use seemingly small things to overcome what is seemingly strong.

The spiritual disciplines of stillness and corporate prayer are not implemented to guarantee some human conception of success. Rather, these disciplines remind our forgetful hearts that God is the source of all power to restore and transform; that He is both loving and sovereign; and that without Him, we can do nothing. The tenacity of the IJM staff flows from an understanding of the power of God. I question whether real change can occur because I automatically think in terms of what can reasonably be accomplished, but the culture of the IJM office is to surrender everything to the Lord and to trust Him for the results.

These concepts have influenced me deeply. My prayer life is woefully minimal because I am accustomed to relying on my own strength every day. In my pride, I want to say, my own power has accomplished this. I am challenged by the IJM team who remain fearless in the face of circumstances that appear insurmountable. I am humbled by their faith and convicted of my own self-reliant attitude. I am challenged to turn to the Lord in consistent, daily prayer for every aspect of my life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Center Intern Update: So Heon Park

At the Hwaseong Immigration Processing Center
I visited the Hwaseong Immigration Processing Center in Hwaseong, South Korea to meet with a refugee applicant (“applicant”). The purpose of the visit was to ask some questions regarding her case with attorneys from my organization, Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL). The meeting was held in a special room, called the “attorney’s reception room.”

Since the applicant is from an English speaking country, my primary role was to be an interpreter to help facilitate communication between the attorneys and the applicant. Before visiting the Hwaseong Immigration Processing Center, I researched the law from the applicant’s country relating to citizenship and marriage and reviewed her case file so I would be familiar with the applicant’s answers. I was privileged to see and learn how the attorneys asked questions and treated the applicant during the interview. 

Lunch study presentation
The attorneys kindly explained the process and the legal steps that the applicant could take and choose, and they also gave her a chance to ask any questions regarding her case. I learned that studying the record and materials before meeting the applicant and asking good questions are very important because the time that attorneys and the applicant meet is very crucial for all of them. Thus, it is very important to be prepared for the meeting so that the attorneys can obtain important information within the time limit.

Also, in APIL, there is a session called “lunch study.” One of staff members not only studies and researches on topics that are helpful for the organization, but also prepares a presentation or study session to educate other co-workers. It is a self-study session to improve staff members’ background knowledge in various areas and also facilitate a discussion. The staff member, who prepares the study session, also posts the content on the website to share the information with public.

Study session during lunch time
I studied and researched Dublin Regulation III, a European Union (EU) law that provides the legal framework for asylum law throughout the EU. It establishes the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsibility for examining applications for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person. I went over the law’s history and purpose, outlined the EU member countries, explained the differences between the previous Dublin Regulation and Dublin Regulation III, and also discussed important concepts and case examples. Dublin Regulation III has not been translated into Korean yet, so I translated important articles to Korean to help my co-workers understand. I had not studied the Dublin Regulation before I started preparing the study session; thus, it was very helpful for me to educate myself on European Union law and the Dublin system itself. Moreover, I was very thankful that I could contribute my skills to APIL. 

I am very excited to share my work with people who might need this information to help refugees apply for international protection in EU countries. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Center Intern Update: Olufemi Odukoya

My internship with the Business Development Center in Rwanda was an amazing partnership between Regent’s School of Business and Development and Regent Law. The Business Development Center is a non-profit organization based in Rwanda that focuses on preparing and nurturing entrepreneurs to start and grow business with ethical values. It combines world-class entrepreneurial training with a comprehensive package to support and advise local businesses. The affect is development and empowerment for the local businesses. The connection between business and investment has always been vital to development in emerging regions of the world. Partnerships between investors and business owners can be the catalyst that causes transformative change in disadvantaged communities.

As a way to help foster the partnership between the investors and business owners, I created viable term sheets (contracts) that will be conducive to the intent of each respective side. Many times, the creation of an agreeable term sheet can cause an increasing amount of friction between investors and business owners.  Having the opportunity to help create term sheets that supports both the interests of the business owners and the investors has been worthwhile. If something were to go wrong in the investment deal, the opportunity for each of the parties to be able to arbitrate effectively is vital. The enforceability of the term sheet is what ultimately allows the potential opportunities to come to fruition.

View other intern stories >

Friday, August 21, 2015

Regent School of Law Values Serving Others

Before they open Black's Law Dictionary or master replying to Socratic teaching methods, Regent University School of Law 1L students learn the most important thing about law: serving others.

On Friday, August 21, students, faculty and alumni participated in the 7th Annual Community Service Day hosted by Regent Law's Career and Alumni Services. The group of 160 broke into separate teams to tackle tasks with Foodbank, Union Mission, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Bridge Christian Fellowship, St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children and Operation Blessing.

"This is exactly what Regent is about and what we should exemplify," said Michael Hernandez, dean of the School of Law, who spent his morning distributing food at Foodbank. "Anybody who's able to get to the level of a law student is obviously blessed in a lot of ways. I think it's important for us to recognize that blessing and share it with others."

Aside from the scriptural charge of serving the "least of these," Hernandez explained participating in community oriented projects will prime future law advocates for pro-bono work in their careers.

Kathy Stull '09 (School of Education), assistant director of Career & Alumni Services, volunteered at Bridge Christian Fellowship, preparing items for the community clothing drive.

"Being an attorney is all about serving clients," said Kathy Stull '09 (School of Education), assistant director of Career & Alumni Services. "We want our students to start out the school year by serving people in the community, because the law school is about serving others in their careers."

Stull said that many of the student organizations within the School of Law, such as the Law Review and Moot Court, made the day of service mandatory for their members.

"That was really exciting," said Stull. "Everyone comes together and participates, and they love it. They get to meet lots of other students, that's a big part of it. I'm really enthusiastic about the fact that a lot of the 2Ls and 3Ls come back and see the value in it."

One 3L student was Lily Ilnitsky, who spent the morning volunteering with Operation Blessing. Ilnitskyhas started every school year of her legal education with the service day, and found the perfect opportunity to pour into the lives of 1L students and share with them tips for their own educational journeys.

"It feels awesome to give back," said Ilnitsky. "We're doing a lot for ourselves by getting this education, so it's good to be God's hands and feet."

Learn more about Regent University's School of Law.

By Brett Wilson

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Center Intern Update: Natasha Delille

Natasha interned at Freedom Firm, a non-profit organization that works to combat sex trafficking in India by rescuing minor girls who have been sold into the commercial sex trade, restoring their identities, and seeking justice against those who perpetrate these crimes.
At 6:45 a.m. on Friday morning, Freedom Firm’s Pune[1]team made a multiple-hour journey to a nearby city. The day before, Freedom Firm investigators called alerting the Pune team that they spotted potentially minor girls at a brothel in Topsham*. We were worried because we were told that the Superintendent of Police (“S.P.”) of Romansleigh*—the main district of the region where the target was located— was completely corrupt, and we needed his permission and cooperation to be able to conduct a successful raid. I wrestled in prayer as we drove to Topsham, the town where the raid would take place.

Upon arrival in Topsham, we drove to the local police station to meet the Freedom Firm investigators. In order to drive through the red light area without raising suspicion, Evan Henck—Regent Law alum and Regional Director of Freedom Firm—got out of the car; and I wrapped my head with a scarf so that I could blend in. Two of the investigators got into the car so that they could point out the target brothel. We drove through the red light district, which was a tiny slum located right next to a residential area filled with beautiful homes. All of the team members familiarized themselves with the location, and then we headed back to the local police station to pick up Evan.

The next stop was the Romansleigh Police Station. Freedom Firm chose to not involve the local police because the local police were likely to have a connection with the brothel keepers and would have warned them. We arrived at the Romansleigh Police Station and waited for three hours to be seen by the S.P. As the time went on, our patience wore thin and our hope slowly slipped away, but our prayers increased. We were called into the S.P.’s office and the Freedom Firm team explained why we were there. The S.P. picked up the phone and directed the Inspector of Police (“P.I.”) to help us with whatever we needed. The S.P. did not ask for proof of who we were or for evidence that there were minor girls working at the brothel; he simply took our word for it. We headed over to the Crime Branch and discussed a plan with the P.I., who then assigned a plain-clothed team to accompany Freedom Firm on the raid. We divided into two vehicles: one marked and one unmarked. Evan and I rode along with some of the police officers in their marked police vehicle. The unmarked vehicle drove ahead of us. As we turned into the Topsham red light area we noticed that the unmarked vehicle was headed toward us and that the Freedom Firm team and police officers had already disembarked. Those of us in the marked police vehicle jumped out and ran towards the brothel. The team managed to capture the two brothel keepers and six of the sex workers. Unfortunately, one of the three suspected minors managed to escape, and because of the rain and mud it was difficult to catch her. During the raid a pregnant female officer slipped and fell. We rushed her to the emergency room. I sat on the edge of my seat praying that her baby was okay. About an hour later we were told that the officer had fractured her arm and the baby was perfectly fine. Upon hearing the good news, we headed to the local police station to meet up with the rest of the Freedom Firm team.

Over the next few hours the girls were processed and charges were filed against the brothel keepers. I was able to sit in on the interview of the minor girls conducted by Shital, the Freedom Firm social worker. During the interviews the two girls revealed very little. However, we did come to learn that one girl had only completed the third grade in school, whereas the other had never even gone to school.

Restoration: Life in Government Homes
Yesterday, I accompanied Shital to a nearby government home where she visits rescued women and girls. Each level of the government home is sealed off by a lock to prevent the residents from running away and outsiders from entering and kidnapping the residents. The residents at this home come from all over India and some have babies or very young children. Freedom Firm sends a social worker for a few hours each day to teach literacy and hobby classes to the residents. While at the home, Shital and I worked teaching the residents how to pronounce the letters of the English alphabet.

On Wednesday, Evan, Shital, and I took a trip back to Topsham. The purpose of the trip was to confirm that the rescued girls were placed in a government home and to find out the trial date for the brothel keepers. We were only able to see the girls for a few minutes. Though the time spent with the girls was short, the purpose of the visit was to reassure the girls that they were not alone. I will never forget the smile and the gleam of hope that I saw in one of the girl’s eyes when she saw us.

Please keep the rescued girls and Freedom Firm in your prayers.

*The names of the cities have been changed

[1] Pune is the City where the Freedom Firm office at which Natasha interned is located.