Miami Law Human Rights Law concentration

Human Rights Law

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Miami Law provides our students with broad academic and experiential learning opportunities in the field of human rights. Our course offerings and our experiential learning programs – including clinics, externships, fellowships and summer programs – provide students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills working on human rights issues, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Academic & Experiential Learning Opportunities
Courses & Seminars
International Moot Court Program
Human Rights Lecture Series and Conferences
Student-Run Activities

Academic & Experiential Learning Opportunities in Human Rights

Miami Law Clinics: Our 10 clinics give students practical, hands-on lawyering experience, while also helping needy and under-represented individuals and groups in Miami and across the nation and the globe. Learn more.

Human Rights Clinic: The Human Rights Clinic exposes students to the practice of law in the international and cross-cultural context of human rights litigation and advocacy through a seminar and hands-on experience working on active human rights cases and projects. Projects include:

  • Working on landmark women's and immigrants' rights cases against the United States before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  • Engaging in advocacy before the United Nations
  • Supporting initiatives to implement the human rights norms developed through this advocacy at the local and national levels

H.O.P.E.: Helping Others through Pro bono Efforts (HOPE) is our public interest resource center and the home to many opportunities to do human rights work nationally and internationallyl. HOPE also regularly hosts information sessions on landing a job, fellowship or internship in the public interest and in human rights. Opportunities include:

  • Scholarships granted to students with outstanding academic achievements and commitment to public service.
  • HOPE Fellowship Program, which provides summer stipends to students to create their dream jobs in human rights and public interest anywhere across the globe.
  • Public Interest Leadership Board a student-run board comprised of a dynamic group of Miami Law students dedicated to public service, including human rights.

Career Development Office: The Career Development Office (CDO) is committed to assisting students and graduates of Miami Law with employment placement. The CDO supports human rights law placements, advises students looking for human rights-related work, and provides information on Post-Graduate Followships.

  • Externship Program: The Externship Program gives second and third year students an opportunity to gain practical legal experience. Through the program, UM students have had externship placements at regional and international human rights bodies and courts and organizations, including at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League and the Florida Justice Institute.
    • Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance Center, Cairo, Egypt
    • American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, North Carolina and Florida
    • Americans for Immigrant Justice, Miami
    • America Samoa office of the Attorney General, Samoa
    • State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities
    • Disability Rights in Oregon
    • National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Washington, D.C.
    • World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Human Rights Courses & Seminars

Every semester the law school offers a range of human rights-related courses and seminars taught by our world-renowned faculty and visiting faculty from across the globe. Recent courses and seminars have included:

  • American Indian Law
  • Bias and the Law
  • Children and the Law
  • Civil Rights, Economic Justice and Independent Media
  • Children & the Law
  • Comparative Constitutional Law
  • Constitution, Rights & Territory in American History
  • Cultural Property and Heritage Law
  • Democracy, Constitutionalism and Human Rights
  • European Union Law; Feminism and the First Amendment
  • Guantanamo Seminar
  • Human Rights Advocacy in Latin America
  • Human Trafficking; Immigration, Ethnicity and Public Policy
  • Immigration Law
  • International Economic Law
  • Inter-American System of Human Rights
  • International Family Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Minority Rights
  • Power: Ideals and Reality
  • Law of War & Human Rights
  • Race & Class in American Public Education
  • Sexuality and the Law
  • Torture and the Law
  • Voting Rights and Election Law Seminar

Click here for current course listings

International Moot Court Program

In the International Moot Court Program, students represent the University of Miami School of Law in legal competitions around the world while obtaining course credit. Many of the competitions are focused on human rights or include human rights issues.

Human Rights Lecture Series and Conferences

Renowned human rights scholars, lawyers and advocates from around the world regularly visit Miami Law, giving public lectures, attending conferences and meeting with students and faculty. Our own faculty and students also contribute to these series and conferences on human rights issues. Over the past two years, our Human Rights Clinic and our Immigration Law Clinic have hosted major groundbreaking conferences on timely human rights issues.

The Louis Henkin Lecture Series on Human Rights: Louis Henkin, the prominent law professor at Columbia University School of Law, was one of the founders of the academic study of human rights and the "human rights at home" movement. Henkin educated and inspired a whole generation of human rights lawyers, scholars, and activists, including some of Miami Law's professors, who were greatly influenced by his teaching and writing. Miami Law created a lecture series in his memory, which has included the following lectures by illustrious speakers:

The International Law Lecture Series is run by the International Graduate Law Programs which regularly teams up with the Human Rights Clinic (HRC) to host lectures on human rights and international law. Watch videos of past lectures which have included:

Immigration Speaker Series: These presentations in the Spring 2012 included, amongst others, Roxana Bacon former chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and Esther Olavarria, Department of Homeland Security, on immigration reform; and Lee Gelernt and Judy Rabinovitz of the American Civil Liberties Union, on immigrants' rights and the federal courts.

Student organization sponsored lectures are offered throughout the year by our dynamic and ever-growing student-run organizations.

Recent human rights lectures have included:


Miami Law hosted two major human rights-related conferences over the past two years. Immigration Law and Community - The Immigration Clinic held this symposium in October 2010 on the themes of undocumented immigration and community, immigrant women, and Haiti and our Haitian community.

Gender Justice in the Americas: A Transnational Dialogue on Sexuality, Violence, Reproduction & Human Rights: Our Human Rights Clinic, along with the Human Rights Center of the University of Diego Portales (Chile), the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Human Rights Institute of Columbia Law School, hosted this conference on February 23-25, 2011. Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Director of Miami Law's Human Rights Clinic, organized this unique convening which brought together the hemisphere's leading scholars and advocates from over 20 countries.


Miami Law is home to many world-renowned faculty who teach human rights courses, include human rights issues in their curriculum and/or are conducting human-rights related research.

Faculty in the area of Human Rights:

Visiting Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, and Staff working in the area of Human Rights:

A complete faculty list and detailed bios can be found in our faculty directory.

Student-run activities

Law journals: Our students run many law journals addressing human rights issues. Our law journals include:

  • Business Law Review
  • Inter-American Law Review
  • International and Comparative Law Review
  • Miami Law Review
  • National Security & Armed Conflict Law Review
  • Race and Social Justice Law Review

Many of these journals take interest in the area of human rights. For example, the Miami Law Review in the Spring 2011 ran a special symposium issue on the law school's groundbreaking global conference on Gender Justice and Human Rights in the Americas, publishing articles and essays from world-renowned advocates and academics in the field of women's rights. Miami Law Review's 2012 annual symposium was on the death penalty and life without parole.

The Inter-American Law Review hosted symposia on the Inter-American human rights system and on the situation of human rights in Haiti. Its 2012 symposium titled, The Haitian State: Creating Sustainability Growing Forward, addressed the political and legal situation in Haiti pre and post earthquake. Its previous symposium, The Human Element: the Impact of Regional Trade Agreements on Human Rights and the Rule of Law, focused on human rights and featured distinguished guests from around the world.

Student Organizations: Miami Law has over 50 dynamic and diverse student organizations. Many include domestic and international human rights concerns in their work. Organizations such as the Student Organization for Human Rights, American Constitution Society, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and International Law Society place a heavy emphasis on human rights issues.


Skadden Foundation

February 26, 2014: The Miami Law HOPE Public Interest Resource Center, Career Development Office (CDO), Academic Achievement Program, and Human Rights Clinic welcomed Susan Butler Plum, Director of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, to speak with students interested in applying for a Skadden fellowship and pursuing a career in public interest law. The Skadden Fellowship Program provides funding for graduating law students who wish to devote their professional lives to providing legal services to the poor, the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights. Ms. Butler Plum was joined by Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Director of the Human Rights Clinic, and Jennifer Hill, Professor of Legal Writing and Lecturer in Law—both former Skadden Fellowship recipients. They spoke about their experiences as Fellows, including the application process and how their fellowships affected their law careers. Click here to view the conversation.

Human Rights DC

Left to Right: Class of 2014 Daniel Kinney, Human Rights Clinic Client-Jessica Lenahan, Human Rights Clinic Director and Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Human Rights Clinic Supervising Attorney Kelleen Corrigan and Class of 2014 Charlotte Cassel attend meetings at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.

Miami Law student Drew Aiken

Professor James Nickel writes and teaches human rights law and theory to Miami Law students.

Miami Law student Drew Aiken

The book, Making Sense of Human Rights by James W. Nickel, explains and defends the contemporary conception of human rights. Combining philosophical, legal and political approaches, Nickel explains international human rights law and addresses questions of justification and feasibility.

Miami Law student Drew Aiken

Students from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Medellin, Colombia) visited Miami Law in January 2012 for a colloquium on human rights. Here, UPB and Miami Law Human Rights Clinic students prepare oral arguments on case currently being litigated at the UPB clinic.

Miami Law student Drew Aiken

Professor Stephen Schnably exchanging ideas with visiting students from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellin, Colombia.

Miami Law student Drew Aiken

Dean Juan Guillermo Jaramillo, from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, talking to Miami Law and UPB students about the new adversarial criminal law system implemented in Colombia.