International Organizations Clinic

LW.12165 / LW.12166
Professor Angelina Fisher
Professor Gráinne de Búrca
Open to 2L, 3L, and LLM students
Maximum of 10 students (JDs and LLMs)

Spring 2022 semester
6 credits*
Prerequisites: International Law**
(If offered in Fall 2021, International Organizations course and Global Data Law course are recommended but not required.)


The aim of this clinic is to assist students in developing a fuller set of skills required to address increasingly complex global (i.e. both international and transnational) problems. The seminar portion of the Clinic will introduce students to a range of the different legal, political, and regulatory theories informing the legal norms, practice, and policy of international organizations. It is designed to help students understand the relevance of inter-disciplinary perspectives to the practice of law in global settings, and to learn the ways in which core cognitive lawyering skills (i.e. mastering legal research tools and methods, developing an ability to integrate factual and legal knowledge, strengthening analytical and reasoning skills, and exercising judgment based on the understanding gained) matter in the practice of international law.

"Thinking like a lawyer" may be more demanding today than it has been in the past, given how complex law and lawyering has become, but it is particularly demanding for lawyers who want to work in an international context. Given the increasing interdependence of legal and economic regimes across countries, lawyers (including domestic lawyers) need a broad set of tools to solve increasingly complex, and sometimes novel, legal problems. There is increasing demand for lawyers with a sound understanding of the institutional, socio-political and economic contexts within which domestic and international legal issues arise and are addressed: how do markets function? How do bureaucracies behave? How do technologies shape change? How do domestic laws interact with international regimes? How do international legal and regulatory regimes and institutions interact with each other?

Course Description


Drawing on existing scholarship and ongoing research conducted by faculty and others at NYU School of Law, the seminar will focus on themes that intersect with projects in the areas of global governance, such as inter-institutional cooperation; the role of lawyers and private actors in the creation, the evolution, and interpretation of international legal norms; the role of lawyers within international organizations; the relationship between different international organizations; the diffusion of ideas and legal norms; the North-South relationship in international law, amongst others.

Students will be encouraged to think about the implications of their clinical project for the people affected by it or by broader actions or policies that relate to the project, and to consider the perspectives of under-represented or non-represented constituencies. They will also be asked to consider the role of an international lawyer in the development of international law, to discuss the professional legal responsibility of lawyers working with international or foreign laws, and to examine the ethics of international law and policy. To this end, the seminar might also feature the occasional participation of members of the UN community and lawyers working in the international organizations.

The seminar will also be a forum for discussing the ongoing fieldwork, team dynamics, time management and client relationships, and will allow for peer review and feedback on interim work products.


The students will work with the clinic professors on projects with international organizations on a broad range of topics related to global governance. Often, the work requires in-depth engagement with other disciplines including economics, technology and sociology. For example, in 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21, the clinic worked with a number of large-scale international organizations on issues relating to (i) the organizations’ handling of personal and non-personal data--the students produced a report on data governance for international organizations; (ii)  digital data-sharing amongst international organizations and between international organization and the private sector--students produced a series of case studies; and (iii) risks that arise in connection with projects that involve data-generating technologies--students produced a memorandum outlining the implications of such risks on due diligence operations of a development bank.

In prior years, the clinic examined the emerging engagement of the IMF with social protection and its impact on national policies, worked with a UN agency on promoting a global accountability mechanism for the post-2015 sustainable development process, advised a major development bank on the need to adapt its accountability institution/complaints mechanism to the changing international development environment, and assisted an international organization to think about ways to promote and regulate the global sharing of information related to viruses with pandemic potential.

In Spring 2022, the project is likely to focus again on legal, governance, social and ethical issues associated with the handling and sharing of data, the use of emerging technologies by international organizations, and the impact of private-public tech partnerships on operations of international organizations.

It is extremely important for students to realize that the fieldwork is not an internship; instead, it consists of providing legal advice and legally-informed policy advice to international organizations facing complex problems. While students will have the opportunity to engage first-hand in the work of a number of international organizations, this will mainly entail research and memo-writing with a view to assisting officials within those organizations with the practical problems they are confronting and addressing. If the organization is geographically proximate (and COVID-related conditions permit), students are likely to have periodic visits to the IO offices; if the location of the IO means that such visits are not possible, students will communicate with the IO officials by phone or Zoom to discuss the progress of their projects, and will visit the organization at least once and sometimes twice. The focal point (and usually the high point) of the clinic semester is the final visit to the premises of the international organization to present the results of the clinical research and advice to officials and staff of the organization.

The combination of fieldwork and seminar will enable students to see the relevance of the theory learned to practice.

Application Procedure

Students interested in applying for the clinic should submit the standard application, resume, and transcript online through CAMS. To arrange an interview, please use the CAMS system as well.

The application period for LL.M. students will take place at a time TBD. (Please note there is a separate application form for LLM students.)

If you have questions regarding the application procedure, please contact Angelina Fisher via email.

Student Contacts

Students who took the Clinic Fall 2020 are as follows:

Celine Yan Wang
Katie Holland
Itai Thaler
Philip Delgarno
Peter Birghoffer
Cher Huiyan Zhang

Kana Murai
Sai Simrita Dhamodaran

* 6 credits include 3 clinical (fieldwork) credits and 3 academic seminar credits.

** Preference will be given to those who have taken (or are taking concurrently with the clinic) a course on international organizations.