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Which law schools have notable programs in international human rights law?

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I've looked around a little at law schools before, and it seems like most keep their international law and human rights programs separate. I could be wrong in how this works (feel free to correct me!) but are there any reputable or notable programs that actually combine both? How might I pursue this type of career?

#law-school #international-humanitarian-law #law #law-practice

Hello Tamera. I will highly recommend Notre Dame Law school. They have a strong center for human rights and even a LLM focused only on Human Rights Law. I had the chance to study there the general LLM where I took Human Rights classes with JD students who where willing to focus in Human Rights Law. If you have any questions on this please don't hesitate to ask. Isabella Cajiao Garcés Translate
Hi Tamera. Within the US I would say that Harvard Law School and NYU offer excellent programs on international human rights law. They both offer clinics, programs, besides many post graduate opportunities regarding human rights. Outside the US I would recommend Leiden University, in the Netherlands. Its has expertise in a wide range of aspects of public international law, including international human rights law. Besides that, I would highly recommend that you apply to the Hague Academy of International law, which takes place in the International Court of Justice (I had the opportunity to attend to 2019 the winter session, and I can say it is totally worth it if you intend to pursue a career on International Law). Please feel free to contact me in case you have further questions. Karin Turra Translate
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Taylor’s Answer

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In law school, during your second and third years you are able to pursue any classes that you. Completing a "program" is not exactly what it sounds like. Many schools have human rights clinics that provide the most direct practice to prepare you for practicing as a lawyer in the human rights field. Even though they do not explicitly state that they are "international human rights", these programs focus on human rights issues all over the world. The courses that you choose from cover a great variety of human rights issues and can either focus on general human rights internationally or may focus on human rights issues in different geographic areas. Choosing classes and participating in clinics are the best way to pursue studies of international human rights. George Washington University, UCLA, Columbia, Emory, and NYU all have strong international human rights programs.

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MariElizabeth’s Answer

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I suggest a decent law school (almost any) then an get an LLM (Master of Law) in International Human Rights . https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/articles/2019-06-10/how-to-choose-the-right-law-school-to-become-a-human-rights-lawyer Interesting and accurate article.

In this region consider Northeastern Univ. Law ...they have a great concentration in International Law and Human Rights. Ideally look for a law school will offer not only an introductory course on human rights law, but also classes on international criminal law, public interest law and refugee law. Courses that focus on legal issues surrounding vulnerable minority populations are also helpful

Figure out what state (s) you may want to settle in BEFORE you go to law school and check out the local Bar admission rules..... AND, know that it may be easier to pass the Bar Exam in the state you go to law school in..

Know that lawyers in this field do not make a lot of money. Good luck!

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kayleigh’s Answer

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Hi Tamera,
I suggest you look into Central European University's legal studies department. It is an international graduate school that is accredited through the u.s. but is located in Europe. If time and money are of any concern to you, I'd consider this school because of the short length of programs and the many scholarships offered. I graduated from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary with a Master of Arts in Human Rights. That program involved international human rights law with a focus on the European Commission on Human Rights. I hold in Bachelor of Arts in the Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington in Seattle, and although that degree was an interdisciplinary humanities degree, I was admitted to the Legal Studies department at Central European University. They offered a non-legal master's (MA) to students of various academic backgrounds and a legal master's (LLM) to students who have completed their law school degrees. Some of my MA colleagues went onto law school after completing our program, and my LLM colleagues are eligible to work as human rights lawyers. Please feel free to ask further questions. Good luck!
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Michael John’s Answer

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These are lofty goals and admirable. My experience with international law was commercial transactions. It was great experience and if you are looking to work in an international field, my suggestion is to think in terms of in house legal staff for a corporation or a large firm in one of the bigger global commercial centers, e.g. NYC, DC, SF, etc. It is a global economy and the "deals" that hold supply chains and project together are all crafted by lawyers.

As to "human rights law" - there is such a need for lawyers to work on basic human rights protection here in the USA that there is no need to look any further than the waters edge. One may lead to the other. You never know.

Work focused and hard, get good grades, get into a good school, continue to get good grades by working hard, get admitted to practice and keep working your network.

You will find what you are looking for.
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Georgette’s Answer

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First, recognize that any law school will give you one degree, a JD, first. Within a JD program you can usually pick and choose some elective courses and you may find a few that would apply to your interest. There are no Juris Doctor programs in international human rights law or any other kind of law-- they're all just generally getting you a JD. You can most likely find the greatest number of elective courses along those lines in one of the Top 20 law schools and law schools in the Washington DC area. You could also focus your internship and clerkship experiences with international agencies such as the UN or The Hague or with judges in districts that get a lot of Guantanamo/terrorism cases (SDNY comes to mind.) Ultimately you may wish to pursue advanced law degrees (an LLM and an SJD) at a school which will allow you to more distinctly focus on your interest. Just remember that what counts most for actually LEARNING that area of law will be your first couple of jobs (in school and afterwards) more than the classes you take.

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Donna’s Answer

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Many years ago, when President Carter was in office, I looked into International Human Rights advanced law degrees. US Davis had a very interesting program, although Stanford's program was more self-study. Human Rights fell out of favor once President Reagan came into office, then it seemed to shift to International Business without much attention paid to Human Rights. So, you might check out these schools. I also attended a month-long program in Strasbourg, France at the European Court of Human Rights. A wonderful experience!
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Kiran’s Answer

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I would check out Georgetown Law!: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/human-rights-institute/

My husband went there, and though he didn't do the program they offer, my boss did, and she did some work in Rwanda before the International Court of Justice before she went on to do other things. Let me know if you want to speak to either of them. :)
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Donna’s Answer

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This could be old advice and things might have changed. Years ago I wanted to pursue a career in international human rights. I was told that I should get the standard J.D. and then go for an advanced degree. Two possibilities: University of California at Davis had a specialized human rights program that included working overseas. The other was Stanford, but that was more of an independent study program with a thesis. Check them out. You might want to contact attorneys that practice in this area for advice or even someone at the United Nations. My search was done when there was an emphasis on human rights. It seems that international law degrees have shifted more into the business end and less emphasis on human rights. Hopefully it will swing back.

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Cassandra’s Answer

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Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, located on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis, IN, has a Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL). The director is Professor George Edwards, who established the program in 1997. As stated on the program's web page, the focus of the program is "to further teaching, study and scholarship on international human rights law, to assist governmental, inter-governmental, and non-governmental organizations on projects related to human rights around the world, and to help students experience what it's like to be involved in International Human Rights work."

Cassandra recommends the following next steps:

  • Visit https://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/human-rights/index.html for additional information on the IU McKinney PIHRL.
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christopher’s Answer

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Firstly, we need to bear in mind that most law schools don't do curses in particular like they do in the university. The law school is a basic school for the training of a lawyer and a compulsory program to have your licences. You can do a program in international human right law in your masters or PhD levels. Where u can write on it and know more about it.

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Harriette’s Answer

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You should look into Pace University Law School's environmental law program, which has a strong international law and human rights focus, as well as Fordham University Law School's International Human Rights curriculum.

Harriette recommends the following next steps:

  • Review these websites: https://www.fordham.edu/info/23930/international_human_rights; https://law.pace.edu/academics
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Cassandre’s Answer

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Hello Tamera. Many schools have notable programs in international human rights law. I personally attended Georgetown Law which has a great international human rights law program, but George Washington University, NYU, Columbia, Fordham Law School and the City University of New York are just a few other names off the top of my mind. Because positions in the human rights field are not as plentiful as say, law firm positions, it is important to intern and network. During your first and second summer of law school, try to get placed with a human rights organization, like the UN, RFK Human Rights, Open Society Foundations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and many more. Fellowships are also a great entry into the field but generally require you to show serious interest through either your course selection, publications or internships. And last but not least clinics are a great way to get experience in human rights work.

Cassandre recommends the following next steps:

  • Research some of the law schools mentioned above with an eye for their clinical offerings
  • Reach out to professionals in the field and develop relationships with them. Their advice and referrals will be crucial later.
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Joseline’s Answer

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In Florida, Stetson University law school and Florida State University law school have great clinical programs to help you get the experience needed to do this type of legal work.

I graduated from Florida State and had a great time, I volunteered for the clinic and took the human rights law class.

Go to their websites for more information on it:

https://www.stetson.edu/law/faculty/nagle-luz-e/

https://law.fsu.edu/academics/academic-programs/jd-certificate-programs/international-law-certificate.

Good luck!

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