My World Bank internship experience in Washington DC

Nickolas Horton in Washington DC
"It’s a really exciting time to be a Law student at ANU, with so many more doorways opening up for overseas opportunities" Nick says.

I think the World Bank internship was perhaps the most formative part of my entire law degree

Nick Horton says six months as a World Bank Scholar in Washington DC was probably the most rewarding experience of his time as an ANU Law student by enabling him to marry his passions for law and languages to investigate corruption.

Nick, who will graduate this July with a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies / Bachelor of Laws (Hons), also encourages students to apply for their chance to receive the $25,000 scholarship.

“I think the World Bank internship was perhaps the most formative part of my entire law degree,” he says.

Looking back, it’s actually quite surreal to think that I was able to spend six months working with such an incredibly diverse and engaged team in the Integrity Vice-Presidency (INT), as well as living in the political beating heart of the United States. 

“Professionally and academically, although having had little exposure to international anti-corruption law and practice, at INT, I feel that I grew in new and unanticipated ways that have really shaped my outlook on my career, and how a legal education can manifest in so many enriching professional pathways that can have wide-ranging, real-world impact. 

“I was able to use my Chinese and Japanese language skills on a daily basis to help review documents submitted by companies under investigation for fraud and corruption. I was also fortunate to be mentored through my day-to-day drafting and legal analysis work by some of the brightest lawyers from as far afield as Australia, Germany, Italy, the Philippines, Canada and Nigeria.”

Nick’s time in Washington also coincided with a full political calendar of events that included the Judge Brett Kavanaugh hearings and the mid-term elections. 

“You really feel the energy of American history and politics, whether it’s running along the National Mall and past the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King stood all those decades ago, or walking past the White House on your lunchbreak and catching glimpses of world leaders as their limousines billow down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he recalls.
“Living in a share house in historic Georgetown – think cobblestones and redbrick houses — very ‘House of Cards’, I also formed lasting friendships with my housemates and our resident cat, Sammy — who is now a rising Instagram star. 

“Likewise, my work colleagues very quickly became some of my closest friends, as well as some of my most inspiring role models. 

“I often travelled up to New York on weekends to live a bit of my Brooklyn hipster dreams, but most of the time, I loved exploring the Smithsonian museums and learning more about American and world history.

“My only critique of life in DC was the coffee. Make sure to take your own beans!”

Before the internship, Nick wanted to compare anti-corruption measures amid the upheaval of seven decades of US supremacy in the Asia Pacific region.

“I was really privileged to hear first-hand the insights from my colleagues about what they thought about the new development institutions in the Asia Pacific,” he says.

“In my own time, I also did a lot more research into the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); but, unfortunately, the institution is still so young, so its anti-corruption organs are only just starting to take shape.

“A particular highlight, though, was attending a panel with Natalie Lichtenstein — the inaugural AIIB General Counsel — who discussed the design of the AIIB’s governance system, during the Bank’s annual Law, Justice and Development Week.”

Another was learning about other countries’ different legal systems from the Bank’s lawyers.

“Through a colleague who doubles as the head of the Anti-Corruption section of the American Bar Association, I also got to attend fireside-style chats with the head of the main French and Swedish anti-corruption agencies, and even MC’d an event with my South Korean prosecutor colleague, where he explained the ins-and-outs of Korean anti-corruption law.” 

Nick says the ANU/World Bank Scholarship – applications for which close on 17 March – is a remarkable opportunity for young law students. 

“We really are privileged to be able to experience work at an international institution as undergraduates, and what’s more, ANU alum Matt Harvey — who helped set up and continues to invest so much of his time and energy into the program — ensures we are exposed to the full richness and variety of work that INT engages in,” Nick says.

“I think one of the most important aspects of the scholarship is also that it has been designed to be as accessible as possible to students regardless of socio-economic means. 

“The College generously supports you to live and work in DC, and this opens many doorways that might otherwise be out of reach for financial reasons. A lot of opportunities and avenues for entry into the Bank and other international organisations can be structurally biased towards those who are able to self-fund unpaid internships, or who are just better positioned because of geography or personal connections to access these pathways. 

“The financial and logistical support that the College provides is really commendable because it opens up a channel for young Australian lawyers-to-be to overcome those barriers and gain a foothold in international legal work.

“I just want to express thanks to the College, INT, Matt Harvey, Jo Ford, and everyone who has been instrumental in keeping the ANU/World Bank Scholarship flourishing. 

“It’s a really exciting time to be a Law student at ANU, with so many more doorways opening up for overseas opportunities. Part of me wishes that I could be a first-year again, but on the whole, I’m glad I chose to move down from Brisbane all those years ago and enrol in ANU Law. It’s amazing where an ANU Law degree can take you.”

It’s taking Nick to Hong Kong in April, where he’s starting as a graduate with King & Wood Mallesons. He’ll be training to be a Hong Kong-registered lawyer, and has begun his Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP).

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Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team