Global Justice Clinic - for JDs

LW.10679 / LW.11210
Professor Ellie Happel
Professor Sienna Merope-Synge
Project Supervisors: Gabrielle Apollon, Sukti Dhital and Tyler Walton
Open to 2L and 3L students
Maximum of 9-12 JD students

Year-long course
12 credits*
No pre- or co-requisites


The Global Justice Clinic engages in work to prevent, challenge, and redress rights violations related to inequality. Recognizing that our location at a well-resourced law school in New York City gives us unique opportunities for advocacy and accountability, we seek to build partnerships with communities, grassroots organizations, and human rights groups negatively impacted by the United States and other Northern-based governments, companies, and institutions. Working on cases and projects that involve domestic and cross-border human rights violations, the consequences of conduct by state and non-state actors, and emerging problems that require close collaboration between actors at the local and international levels, students engage in human rights research and investigation, advocacy, and, occasionally, litigation in domestic and international settings. Serving as partners, advisers, or co-counsel, Clinic students work side-by-side with social justice and human rights activists from the United States and around the world. The Global Justice Clinic is committed to working in a rights-based manner and uses legal empowerment strategies aimed at supporting those most directly impacted by human rights violations to lead the effort for justice and inclusive progress.

Course Description

Project Work consists of collaborations with communities, clients, human rights organizations and social movement actors. Substantively, the work focuses on issues related to local and global injustice such as: Indigenous land rights and self-determination; ending the cycle of incarceration; efforts to combat the negative impacts of transnational corporations on rights such as the rights to water and health; climate (in)justice and human rights and the environment; and the human rights of immigrants and other marginalized groups. These projects give students an opportunity to find their role alongside collaborative partners in formulating policy, conducting research, using legal redress mechanisms, co-creating legal education resources, and strategizing responses to challenging human rights problems.

The seminar critically examines the human rights field, while also teaching core skills of human rights and legal empowerment work, including fact-finding, interviewing, advocacy, strategic litigation, and building effective community partnership. Students also address questions of ethical, political and professional responsibility related to social justice and human rights work.

GJC projects, past and present, have addressed the following issues:

  • Preventing Violations and Advancing Rights in Communities Affected by Extractive Industries (Ghana, Guyana, Haiti)
  • Tackling climate and environmental injustice (Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guyana)
  • Co-creating legal resources with and for jailhouse lawyers and supporting their work as human rights defenders (United States)
  • Equality and Non-Discrimination: Advocating for the Rights of Haitian Immigrants (United States, Western Hemisphere)
  • Right of Access to Information (Haiti, Poland, Romania, United States)
  • Legal Empowerment and Access to Justice for Asylum Seekers and other Migrants (United States)
  • Seeking Accountability for State Surveillance of Human Rights Defenders (Global)
  • Gender-based Violence and Economic and Social Rights (Haiti, Nigeria, Global)
  • Right to Food (Haiti)
  • Rights to Water and Sanitation (Guyana, Haiti, Global)
  • Racial Equality and Police Violence (United States)
  • Human Rights Impacts of Tax Dodging (Switzerland, Global)
  • Protest and Assembly Rights (Haiti, United States)
  • Lethal Robotics, Drones, and Targeted Killings (Pakistan, United States)
  • Gender, National Security, and Counter-Terrorism (United Kingdom, United States, Global)
  • U.S. Rendition, Secret Detention, and Torture (Djibouti, Jordan, Tanzania, Yemen, United States, Global)
  • Seeking accountability for state and corporate actors contributing to climate change (Global)

Qualifications for Applicants

GJC invites all law students interested in solidarity approaches to addressing injustice to apply for the Clinic. Fluency in a language in addition to English is useful, but not required; please note the languages you speak and write—and at what level—along with other qualifications in your application. GJC values experience in activism and organizing for social change; please similarly note this in your application.  While a course in International Law and International Human Rights Law is helpful, neither is required to apply.

Credit Structure and Time Commitment Expected

The clinic seminar meets once per week for 2 hours and 50 minutes, for 3 credits. Students also receive 3 credits for the fieldwork component, for a total of 6 credits per semester, and 12 credits per year. This clinic is time-intensive. Students will be expected to devote at least sixteen hours per week to their clinic project work in addition to the time allotted to reading, written, and simulation assignments for the seminar. Students applying to the clinic should ensure that they are able to make such a time commitment. At times projects require student work during winter and spring breaks. We recommend that students speak to prior clinic students to get a sense of the workload and requirements.

Application Procedure

Students should submit the standard application, a resume, and a grade transcript via CAMS and follow the clinical program’s timeline for JD applications. Selected student applicants will be contacted by Isha Rodriguez for an interview.

For further application instructions, or if you have any questions, please contact Isha Rodriguez.

The Global Justice Clinic and United Nations Diplomacy Clinic occasionally work on similar legal issues but for and with different types of clients. As such, there is a potential for conflicts of interest that may not allow students to participate in both clinics. Students that are interested in participating in both clinics (as a 2L and then as a 3L, respectively) should be in touch with the clinic professors (Ellie Happel and Sienna Merope-Synge for GJC and Bryce Rudyk for UNDC) to ensure that there is no conflict in the relevant year.

Students who have completed the Global Justice Clinic as 2Ls may be eligible to take the Advanced Global Justice as 3Ls for either the Fall or Spring semester. This will involve a 1-credit seminar and 1-2 credits of fieldwork (2 is the default). There is no formal application process for the Advanced Clinic. Eligible students will be contacted about the application process prior to the Spring enrollment period.

Student Contacts

Students interested in the Clinic may want to speak to students from the 2023-24 Global Justice Clinic.

Hanan Al-Malssi
Larissa Daruge
Jennifer Fu
Isabel Hellman
Ed Kwarteng-Siaw
Samayra Siddiqui
Nour Soubani
Alice Viera
Ellie Webb

* 3 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits are awarded each semester. The total for the year is 12 credits.