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Northern Ohio lawyer clerks for African chief justice

CONTACT:  Kenneth Brown – 800-282-6556 or 614-487-4426

Columbus, Ohio (May 31, 2011) – A week after taking the Ohio bar exam last summer, Brian Anderson flew to Africa to serve as the clerk to the chief justice of Rwanda’s supreme court. Part of Anderson’s job was to provide assistance as Rwanda’s judicial branch is transitioning to a hybrid of common and civil law.

“I was there for nine months to assist the chief justice with legal research. I also worked on special projects such as developing recommendations on rules of public procedure that have now become law,” Anderson said.

The position was funded through the Millennium Challenge Corporation Rwanda Justice Strengthening Program. Anderson was recommended by Jean-Marie Kamatali, a visiting assistant law professor at Ohio Northern University (ONU) who is from Rwanda.

“The whole experience was formative for my legal career as well as my personal life,” Anderson said. “Being a clerk sharpened my research skills, and advising a nation’s chief justice boosted my professional confidence.”

Anderson also mentored law students who survived the 1994 genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of Rwandans, and he helped to establish a Rwandan law review publication. Speaking of the experiences in a country that less than 20 years ago was in the middle of a civil war, Anderson said, “When the government was rebuilt after the war, internal security and rule of law in terms of order were a priority. Rwandans are the most welcoming people I’ve yet to encounter anywhere, and I always felt safe while I was there.”

Now that his clerkship has ended, Anderson hopes to find work at an Ohio law firm where he might be able to use his international law experience.

Anderson earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his law degree from ONU Claude W. Pettit College of Law, where he recently received his LL.M. in Democratic Governance and Rule of Law. He is a third generation lawyer: his grandfather practiced in Wisconsin and his father is currently a judge with the Wisconsin District II Court of Appeals. Originally from Wisconsin, Anderson now lives in Ada, Ohio with his wife, Janet.

The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.

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