Human Rights

Student Opportunities

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Human rights work encompasses a range of careers. Many pursue work in NGOs or intergovernmental organizations, such as the human rights offices of the United Nations or UN treaty bodies. Others practice human rights as part of their work in private firmswhether within their pro bono practice or for clients such as states or multinational enterprisesor as litigators in a wide number of international courts or tribunals, including international criminal courts. The Office of Career Services and the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) both offer counseling for students as they explore their options.

At NYU Law, students are encouraged to take advantage of all the Law School has to offer, from working directly with faculty on their research, to getting involved with our centers, to participating in clinics and student organizations. Here are some opportunities for those specifically interested in human rights law:

Student groups include the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Law Students for Human Rights (LSHR).

Student-led journals include the Review of Law and Social Change and the Journal of Law & Liberty.

Clinic publications include “A Decade Lost: Locating Gender in US Counter-Terrorism”“Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile? Human Rights and Environmental Risks of Gold Mining in Haiti”; and “Human Rights Situation of People Affected by the United States’ Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program”

Post-Graduate Opportunities

The Arthur Helton Global Human Rights Fellowship (JDs and LLMs) is designed to support students who have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing careers in international human rights law. Applicants are invited to design projects to put their legal education to work on timely issues in countries where their efforts are most needed and where there are insufficient resources for human rights protection.  

The Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights in China (JDs and LLMs) enables an NYU School of Law graduate to devote a year to full-time human rights work at Human Rights in China, a Chinese non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1989 by overseas Chinese students and scientists.

The Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellowship, offered by the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, gives three graduating students the opportunity to spend one year working with an innovative human rights organization. Such organizations have included Human Rights First, the Center for Business and Human Rights, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The NYU School of Law Fellowship at Human Rights Watch (JDs only) places Fellows at Human Rights Watch for one year. They monitor human rights developments in various countries, conduct on-site investigations, draft reports on human rights conditions, and engage in advocacy and media outreach aimed at publicizing and curtailing human rights violations.

The George A. Katz Fellowship at the Brennan Center for Justice (JDs and LLMs) provides the opportunity for a recent graduate of NYU Law to spend two years as a staff attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice. 

The Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ) Lowinson Scholars Program is for students with outstanding academic backgrounds and with strong international law interests.

The International Court of Justice Clerkship Program (JDs and LLMs) is an opportunity to work for ten months in The Hague. NYU Law was the first American law school to initiate a clerkship program with the International Court of Justice in 2000. 

The International Law and Human Rights Fellowship (LLMs only; JDs eligible during 1L and 2L summers) combines academic and practical experience in international law and human rights. The program offers students the opportunity to complete a specialized training program in international law, undertake a summer internship at a leading institution or organization, and complete a substantial research paper stemming from that work experience.

Post-Graduate Fellowships for 3Ls include fellowships through outside firms Kirkland & Ellis and Outten & Golden.

Post-Graduate Fellowships for LLMs include opportunities through the Equal Justice Initiative and outside firms

Summer Funding

NYU Law students intern abroad every summer in approximately 30 countries. Most of these receive support through the PILC Summer Funding Program, which guarantees funding for all first- and second-year students who want to work in public interest and government positions in the US or abroad. Special internship programs include the International Law and Human Rights Summer Fellowship and The Hague Conference on Private International Law Summer Fellowship.

Scholarships and Fellowships

The Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program, founded in 1958, awards fellowships to a small group of third-year students committed to civil liberties and offers them unique opportunities to pursue public interest careers.

The Center for Human Rights & Global Justice (CHRGJ) has built a reputation for academic and clinical work in human rights subjects—including counter-terrorism; corporate abuses; caste discrimination; gender-based violence; economic, social, and cultural rights; and extrajudicial executions. Opportunities are available for current students and postgraduates; they also have a human rights job board.

The Derrick Bell Scholarship for Public Service promotes the practice of law in the public service sector by NYU Law graduates. Members of APALSA, BALSA, LaLSA, MELSA, MLSA, or SALSA who have proven their dedication to public service and who plan to pursue careers in public interest law are eligible.

The Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ) Lowinson Scholars Program is for students with outstanding academic backgrounds and with strong international law interests.

The Latinx Rights Scholarship provides two full-tuition scholarships on the basis of academic excellence, commitment to community service, and interest in pursuing a career that promotes justice for the Latino community.

The NYU Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship awards Fellowships in Social Entrepreneurship to students from across 11 NYU schools. Reynolds Fellows that are Law School students are housed under the auspices of the Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business and receive Reynolds Program scholarships as they participate in the curricular and co-curricular Reynolds Program designed to help prepare them to be the next generation of social entrepreneurial leaders.

The Root-Tilden-Kern Program, established more than 50 years ago, awards full tuition to 20 scholars, who are selected for commitment to working in public service, academic merit, and leadership potential.

The Transitional Justice Leadership Program offers two classes on Transitional Justice, and scholars receive guidance in developing research projects aimed at eventual publication; obtaining academic-year internships with human rights organizations, and in providing research assistance to transitional justice institutions.