Human rights law has always been important, but in recent decades, its significance and impact have become more obvious. More and more students are eager to dive into the field following graduation. While there are work opportunities for lawyers specializing in human rights that don’t necessary relate directly to law, there are organizations that focus on it. If you are a lawyer wanting to make the most of your degree, here are five orgs offering HR law jobs:
Founded in 1989 as a project of the Socio-Legal Information Centre, this India-based collective of lawyers and social activists offers legal support to a wide range of vulnerable people, like children, those with disabilities, prisoners, refugees, and more. For their work in reproductive rights, they’ve received a MacArthur Award. Over 200 paralegals, activists, and lawyers work for the HRLN. For those just starting their career in law, the HRLN will call specifically for young lawyers.
The first US organization to provide free legal services to refugees, the New York City-based IRAP employs law students and lawyers. The org also has offices in Lebanon and Jordan. IRAP’s work includes litigation, advocacy, and partnerships with other law and activist groups. Job opportunities are posted on their site. As an example of what they’re looking for, a legal assistant must have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and fluency in English, with other languages as a plus. For a mid to senior attorney job, the candidate should be five years’ out of law school and able to practice in New York City. IRAP also looks for excellent communication skills and sensitivity, since refugees come from a wide range of backgrounds and often traumatic experiences.
Children are very vulnerable, and immigrant children are even more so. The Young Center advocates for unaccompanied and separated children. Following the Trump Administration’s border-separation policy, this org has been appointed to represent many of the children, leading to the creation of the Immigrant Child and Family Rights Project. In addition to their representation work, the Young Center works to reform policies at the national level. Working with this Chicago-based org as a staff attorney involves working closely with children clients, developing strategies for cases, analyzing data, and more. Proficiency in Spanish is a must.
Founded in 1987 (originally as the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago), this org has since expanded from its focus on HIV/AIDS to include more vulnerable populations, specifically children with disabilities and chronic health conditions, and the homeless. Using a team of lawyers and legal advocates, the Legal Council works on issues like eligibility for public benefits, employment rights, confidentiality, and discrimination. Attorneys will take cases to court and work on policy with legislative bodies. Qualifications (for a Staff Attorney job with the Aids Legal Council section) include relevant experience and a J.D. degree.
Headquartered in Virginia with offices in Baltimore, D.C, Houston, Atlanta, and the San Francisco Bay, Tahirih serves immigrant women and girls escaping from from abuses like human trafficking, torture, rape, and domestic violence. The org combines pro bono legal services for individuals with policy advocacy and training to improve the system. Job opportunities are posted on the Tahirih website and include the position of a staff attorney, who should have 2-3 years of experience working on asylum/T-visa/etc applications, current bar membership, and excellent cross-cultural communication skills. Another language besides English is recommended.