School navigation

Public Interest Law Project

Erica Maharg

June 01, 2007

  • News Image

Public Citizens Global Trade Watch, Washington, D.C.

Thanks to the PILP stipend I received I was able to work for an amazing advocacy group, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (GTW). Ralph Nader founded Public Citizen in 1970’s as a consumer advocacy group, and the organization played a major role in working towards consumer and environmental protections that many of Americans now take for granted.

GTW, a division of Public Citizen, was created in 1995 to promote government and corporate accountability in the globalization and trade arena. GTW has become a leader in promoting a public interest perspective on an array of globalization issues, including implications for our food, health and safety, environmental protection, economic justice, and democratic, accountable governance.

My primary role at GTW was researching three areas of interest. First, I analyzed cases brought by foreign corporations against the U.S., Canada, and Mexico through the NAFTA arbitration system. Additionally I researched and helped write a revealing report on the United States’ food safety system, the health of food imports, and the effect that free trade agreements have on our domestic ability to protect citizens from foodborne illness. Finally, I researched areas of State law, such as public health care systems, Green Building initiatives, and other public interest areas, that are illegal under the rules of the World Trade Organization.

Because GTW is not a litigation-focused organization, I played a variety of roles as a summer law clerk besides legal research, including field organizing and media work focused on educating the public about upcoming free trade agreements and their implications on jobs, the environment, immigration, and other areas of interest. My many roles in the organization exemplify GTW’s unique role of combining research, public policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote fair trade policy in our nation’s agenda. Being a part of GTW’s staff for the summer was a tremendous experience and showed me a way in which my legal education can be used to promote social change and economic justice.

Share this story on

Contact Us