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Q&A with Maha Sayed '13, summer intern at Hegazy & Associates in Cairo, Egypt

Maha Sayed '13 spent the summer of 2012 interning at the Cairo office of Hegazy & Associates in association with Crowell & Moring. She shares her perspective on the experience here.

Being an Egyptian-American, I was excited to spend my summer working in Egypt after the unprecedented democratic uprisings that began in 2011. However, I knew that there was a possibility that my internship would be disrupted or cut short due to the ongoing political instability. The collapse of the Interior Ministry resulted in a general lack of security throughout the country, which also factored into the decision of pursuing the internship. Despite the various challenges I faced, I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to work in the dynamic environment that Hegazy & Associates provides. I was able to experience the landmark presidential election in June, in the midst of Egypt’s historic transition to democracy, while contributing to the work of a law firm that promotes international trade and commerce.

What projects did you undertake?
My internship allowed me to work both independently and collaboratively as a part of a team. The firm represents a diverse international clientele base, so the projects I worked on required legal knowledge of laws and regulations from both common and civil law jurisdictions. For example, in a matter involving U.S. law, I prepared a memorandum regarding a client’s standing to sue a foreign government in U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. Furthermore, I was given the opportunity to research and learn about English corporate law when I prepared a memorandum on winding up procedures under the U.K. Companies Act 2006. I prepared another memorandum on a parent company’s liability for actions taken by its foreign subsidiaries under English corporate law. Thus, I was able to utilize and apply my knowledge of the common law system in both U.S. and English based legal matters.
Additionally, I was exposed to jurisprudence of primarily civil law based systems. In preparing a memorandum regarding a pending issue in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Court of Arbitration, I had the opportunity to conduct extensive research into the laws and theories of several civil law countries. In this particular instance, my research focused on the civil law systems of France and Egypt.
What type of law are you interested in?
Although I have a strong interest in international commercial law, I am nevertheless committed to the public interest sphere. Specifically, my primary interests encompass civil rights and liberties, as well as international human rights enforcement. My dream job would put me in a position to make a meaningful impact on the protection and advocacy of fundamental civil rights, whether domestically or internationally.
What brought you to law school? And Penn State Law in particular?
I have always had an underlying interest in the way in which states derive authority to govern individuals under the rule of law. Therefore, after completing my undergraduate degree in government and international politics, I decided that law school would not only strengthen my theoretical understanding of the law, but also provide me with the ability to advocate for individual rights and liberties in practice. I chose Penn State Law because of its distinguished international reputation, large alumni network, and the diversity of its course and extracurricular programs, all of which align with my overall professional goals.

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