Soon-to-be second year law student at Tulane University Law School, Lauren (Tootsie) Burk spent this summer at the Center for Seafarers’ Rights at the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) as the 18th Tulane summer intern. Tootsie says she feels in good company. She recounts the other graduates from Tulane who have shared her responsibilities—learning about and assisting the work of SCI’s legal advocacy department—who have gone on to do very good things.
During her time at SCI, Tootsie worked on several projects, including a case of ship abandonment in Puerto Rico. “The owner declared bankruptcy,” she relates, “and left full crews with nothing.” Tootsie says that a local chaplain in Puerto Rico contacted SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights, and its Director, Douglas B. Stevenson, tasked Tootsie with research into this complex case. Describing the work as “interesting but intimidating,” she says, “There were 45 guys who depended on my research, and what I was doing was going to affect them.”
The experience has changed her. She enjoyed working with people who needed her support. This internship has “been a major influence,” according to SCI’s 18th Tulane intern, and she believes it will change the way she practices law in the future.
Through the internship program at SCI, Tootsie has received a host of introductions. She has met leaders in the field of maritime law and potential future colleagues. Tootsie also met a few seafarers. In Port Newark, several hosted her aboard their container ship, treating her to a three-course lunch.
Earlier in her career, Tootsie worked in the art industry. She received a degree in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went on to study in London, earning a Master’s Degree at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She has enjoyed being around all of the art at SCI. Tootsie takes pleasure in SCI’s rich maritime art collection, which she knew about before coming to work at the Institute.
Tootsie’s future moves at a rapid pace. Her internship with SCI finishes on a Friday, and she returns to class the next Monday morning. In this whirlwind of a summer, she recalls that SCI has exposed her to a new side of legal practice. As a leader next year in Tulane’s Maritime Law Society and with the Maritime Law Journal, Tootsie no doubt joins those she characterizes as going on “to do very good things.”