Safia Southey '21GS Joins Columbia Law School via LEAD Program
Safia Southey ‘21GS discovered her interest in law at an early age. Now a senior in the Dual BA Program, Southey was recently accepted into Columbia Law School as a part of the LEAD program, which allows Columbia undergraduate students to pursue a two-year commercial or non-profit venture before beginning their law school careers.
September 25, 2020
Safia Southey ‘21GS discovered her interest in law at an early age. Her parents were humanitarian workers who moved around the world, giving Southey insight into the political turmoil that surrounded her during her time living in places like Cairo, Amman, Paris, and Menton. Seeing these issues first-hand motivated her to further explore Middle Eastern politics and refugee issues.
After graduating from high school, Southey took a gap year to intern with the United Nations, during which she lived in Palestinean refugee camps and worked on education development. “After my gap year following high school, I am a strong believer in the power of forming my own opinions through first-hand knowledge,” she said. This experience drove her to enroll in the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and Sciences Po, where she could work in the heart of the European refugee crisis while studying at Science Po’s Menton campus, and further her studies in NYC with the Columbia University Human Rights Institute.
Inspired by her education and what she’d seen, Southey sought out an internship with the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG). As a research assistant at PILPG, she was able to work directly with lawyers and better understand the processes involved in the effective creation and application of domestic and international law in situations of conflict. “Working as a research assistant for experienced lawyers supporting the Syrian opposition in peace negotiations convinced me that law school was the next critical step in my efforts to address the issues I was passionate about.”
A senior in the Dual BA Program, Southey was recently accepted into Columbia Law School as a part of the LEAD program, which allows Columbia undergraduate students to pursue a two-year commercial or non-profit venture before beginning their law school careers. During her deferral period, Southey plans to return to the Middle East to aid in creating a human rights action plan to relieve the suffering of neglected refugees. “Overall, I intend on using my legal studies to better understand the complexities involved in institution building, transitional justice mechanisms, and peace talks – tools that will help me hold parties accountable to the presiding legal infrastructure,” she said.
While she is unsure of what she wants to pursue after law school, Southey is more focused on her long-term impact: “I am incredibly excited for my deferral period and Columbia Law within their Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict & Human Rights Project, as I know it will equip me with a knowledge on law of war and prepare me for a career in conflict resolution, providing me with the proficiencies necessary to enhance and defend systemic human rights mechanisms.”