Global Justice Clinic - for LL.M.s

LW.10679 / LW.11210
Professor Ellie Happel
Professor Sienna Merope-Synge
Project Supervisors: Gabrielle Apollon, Sukti Dhital and Tyler Walton
Open to LL.M. students
Maximum of 4-6 LL.M. students
Fall semester
6 credits*
No pre-requisites or co-requisites.


The Global Justice Clinic engages in work to prevent, challenge, and redress rights violations related to global 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 partnership with communities, grassroots organizations, and human rights groups negatively impacted by the U.S. and other Northern-based governments, companies and institutions. Working on cases and projects that involve domestic and cross-border human rights violations, the deleterious impacts 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, legal advisers, counsel 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 projects undertaken in collaboration with communities, 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 mass 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 legal responses to challenging human rights problems.

The seminar critically examines the human rights field, while also teaching the 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.

Past and current projects include working with NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, or with communities, organizations and human rights bodies to:

  • Collaborate in solidarity with community-based organizations to use legal empowerment, participatory research and human rights methodologies to achieve their advocacy aims;
  • Undertake fact-finding and draft expert reports, petitions, complaints, and shadow reports for international and regional human rights bodies;
  • Litigate in U.S. and international forums on behalf of individuals seeking redress for human rights violations;
  • Use open government laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act, to obtain information about rights-violating practices and develop advocacy strategies with a wide range of partners;
  • Engage in advocacy aimed at shaping the actions of corporate actors and securing accountability for corporate violations; and
  • Engage in community legal education to redistribute resources to directly impacted communities so they are able to know, use, and shape the laws that impact their lives.

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

  • 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 legal empowerment and solidarity approaches to addressing injustice to apply for the Clinic. Fluency in a language in addition to English is useful; 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’s seminar and fieldwork components are taken together for a combined total of 6 credits. 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. We strongly 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. Selected student applicants will be contacted by Isha Rodriguez for an interview.

The Global Justice Clinic accepts applications for a limited number of spaces for LL.M. students in the Fall semester only. Students should carefully consider the impact of the clinic on their other academic choices during their LL.M. year. The application deadline is different than for JDs, and is posted on the Clinic Application Timelines page. There is a separate application form for LL.M. students. Please use that form and submit it along with a resume and unofficial transcript to CAMS. Selected LL.M. students will be contacted for interviews in the summer as part of the selection process.

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

Student Contacts

Belén Aguinaga Aguinaga
Lucy Forbes
Debayan Gupta
Shardha Rajam

* 3 clinical credits and 3 academic seminar credits are awarded for the semester.