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March 20, 2009
Contact: Mindie Paget, School of Law, (785) 864-9205.

Law student earns internship with nationís top office of international trade

Dana Watts

LAWRENCE — A second-year law student at the University of Kansas has accepted an internship at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Geneva.

Dana Watts of Syracuse, Kan., will conduct research and attend World Trade Organization sessions during the summer position. She also may have opportunities to sit in on bilateral negotiations between the United States and other countries as they attempt to arbitrate rather than litigate their disputes.

“It’s an exciting time to be working for the U.S. Trade Representative because we are now under a new administration that probably has some different ideas about trade,” Watts said. “Also, with the global economic recession, it’s possible that more countries will challenge other countries' policies using the WTO. Academics and economists are worrying the global recession will make countries resort to protectionist measures like tariffs, quotas and non-tariff barriers in an effort to protect domestic industries. They are worried that protectionism will make the global economic situation worse.”

The U.S. Trade Representative is a cabinet-level appointee responsible for the negotiation and enforcement of America’s bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements with foreign governments. The Senate is expected to vote this week on the confirmation of Ron Kirk, President Obama’s nominee for the top post at the agency of more than 200 people. The Geneva Mission of the U.S. Trade Representative handles all matters concerning the World Trade Organization and is a focal point of U.S. Trade Representative activity.

“For Dana to earn this internship is a marvelous statement, both about her and about the KU School of Law,” said Raj Bhala, the Rice Distinguished Professor. “She has worked hard and manifestly seeks a world-class level of professionalism.”

Watts said she was excited to see the World Trade Organization in person after learning about it in-depth this year in Bhala’s international trade classes.

“I hope to get experience researching international trade issues and meeting people who do international trade for a living,” she said. “I want to gain a deeper understanding of some of the complex issues in international trade. I am also hoping that the internship will be a springboard from which to launch my career.”

Before coming to law school, Watts lived and worked in Japan for three years and speaks Spanish. She is the outgoing president of KU’s International Law Society, an active component of the school’s International and Comparative Law Program. After law school, she plans to apply for a clerkship at the U.S. Court of International Trade and for jobs with administrative agencies that work in international trade, such as the U.S. Trade Representative, the International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce.

Watts is the daughter of Doug and Becky Wallace of Syracuse. She graduated from Syracuse High School and Pittsburg State University.

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