One of the most effective ways to fight for human rights is through the law. Governments frequently have unjust legislation on the books and use it to justify their violations. Alternatively, oppressive institutes often ignore the law and discriminate at will. If you are interested in joining an organization working towards a more just world through the legal system, consider one of these five:
With jobs available to lawyers, students, economists, researchers, artists, and more, the HRLN harnesses the power of the legal system to uphold human rights. The HRLN is a project of the Socio-Legal Information Centre and employs over 200 paralegals, activists, and lawyers throughout India. Their goal is to serve populations with limited access to the legal system. The HRLN also promotes litigation, holds programs to inform people about how the legal system works, and so on. Job opportunities at this organization are very diverse, so even if you aren’t a lawyer, you can find find a good fit. There are also internships available.
As the first organization to offer free legal representation to refugees, the IRAP is a great place to work if you’re passionate about this population. It’s an offshoot of the Urban Justice Center and employs lawyers and law students in an variety of positions. For example, a legal assistant should have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree, as well as fluency in English. Other languages are a bonus. Since many (if not most) refugees and displaced persons left their country because of oppression, it’s very important that an employee of the IRAP is sensitive to a range of backgrounds, including LGBT.
This international organization classifies itself as a “volunteer-based organization” that offers humanitarian relief, human development, and advocacy. Legal work is a big part of what United Sikhs does, and the org hires staff attorneys and other positions in the legal field as needed. For staff attorneys, the job does come with a salary, as attorneys work 40 hours per week, sometimes with work on the weekends. A good candidate for a staff attorney must be admitted to the New York City Bar and have experience in civil and human rights law. Excellent communication skills, sensitivity in emotional situations, and analytical skills are also essential to the job.
Founded in 2003, this non-profit has two offices – one in Massachusetts, the other in Oregon. Both provide free legal services to victims of sexual assault and rape. It was the first nonprofit law center in the US working exclusively on the legal needs of these victims. This includes helping survivors with education, jobs, safety, housing, and more. Job opportunities include staff attorneys and legal assistants. A good candidate for the legal assistant post must be fluent in Spanish and English. Highly-desired skills include 1-year experience in the legal world, experience working with sexual assault victims, immigration law experience, and experience working with the trans community.
One of the best known legal organizations in the human rights world, the SPLC specializes in public interest litigation and civil rights. They raise awareness about hate groups, promote tolerance education, and litigate legal cases. Job opportunities are divided into several categories, including children’s rights, criminal justice reform, and immigrant rights. To work as a staff attorney in one of these areas, you must have knowledge of its specifics, as well as the ability to practice law in the state where the job is located.