"From the time I was young, I remember just knowing that I was going to be a lawyer. Well, after I gave up the dream of being an astronaut." While class of 2005 graduate Kristy Sim might not be going up in space anytime soon, she certainly has plans to go far in her career in international human rights law.
"I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility," explained Ms. Sim. "When I observe injustice and suffering, it just seems to make sense to apply my energies towards working on solutions and contribute to improving things. It is part of my nature to avoid unnecessary conflict, to find commonalities and complementarities and to be constructive. This is why I find the practice of law both fulfilling and frustrating."
Currently pursuing a Master's of Studies in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University, Ms. Sim has always been interested in human rights and finding ways to contribute in a meaningful way. In addition to completing her Masters, Ms. Sim is the Program Roster Coordinator with Access Pro Bono, where she matches volunteer lawyers with deserving pro bono clients for the purpose of legal representation. Prior to this, she worked as a staff lawyer with the Prisoners' Legal Services, which she described as being both a challenging and rewarding experience.
"Prisoners are a uniquely vulnerable group and the clients that I was working with were dealing with significant human rights issues. The human aspect of the legal work at Prisoners' Legal Services often felt overwhelming and struggled with feeling powerless. I took the position at Prisoners' Legal Services shortly after having practiced at a large corporate firm, so these feelings of powerlessness were in stark contrast to my previous practice experience."
One of the many highlights from her time at the Prisoners' Legal Services involved a prisoner who had his remaining teeth removed by the institutional dentist shortly after arriving.
"His teeth were in bad shape and he wore dentures. Unfortunately, his English was quite limited and he did not understand that his teeth were going to be removed or that he would not receive replacement dentures." Explained Ms. Sim. "So, he was left without any teeth and the institution took the position that it didn't need to replace them. It took about a year, but we were eventually able to bring a Judicial Review application and the Court required the prison to provide him with new dentures."
With her interim position at Access Pro Bono wrapping up this summer, Ms. Sim will dedicate her time to finishing her Masters so that she may begin her transition into a rewarding career in international human rights law.
"I'm looking into all sorts of opportunities with the United Nations, different international judicial bodies, and non governmental organizations. I'm excited about what is to come."