Learn the Legal Ropes of Human Rights Law
Miami Law provides students with broad academic and experiential learning opportunities in the field of human rights, one of the timeliest legal areas of this day and age. Students learn to use both domestic and international law to advance the rights of individuals and communities—from our own backyard in Miami to locations across the globe. Course offerings and hands-on learning programs—including clinics, externships, fellowships and summer programs—enable students to develop their knowledge and skills working on human rights issues, both in the U.S. and abroad. Students also gain access to our deep network of human rights lawyers, advocates, and scholars. Course offerings and opportunities to work on human rights issues in the U.S. and abroad not only develop students’ knowledge and skills but also helps victims and effect change in meaningful ways. It is no wonder Miami Law was ranked as a Top 7 Law School for Human Rights Law by Pre-Law Magazine in fall 2020.
“The Human Rights Clinic was the best professional and academic experience of my law school career. As a law student, I testified at an American Bar Association Hearing on Stand Your Ground laws, traveled to Geneva to speak before the United Nations, and provided opening remarks at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”
Charlotte Cassel, JD ‘14
Experiential Learning Opportunities
The Human Rights Clinic provides students with firsthand experience in cutting-edge human rights litigation and advocacy at the local, national, regional, and international levels. Students engage with the United Nations, Inter-American Court and Commission on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, and other tribunals. Focus areas include gender and racial justice, immigrant and Indigenous women's rights, and the rights to housing, health and food.
Domestic and International Projects Have Included:
“The Human Rights Clinic enabled us to prepare a well-thought out submission to the United Nations with a tight turnaround and bring attention to the critical issue of punitive drug policy’s harmful effects on a population that is often stigmatized and dehumanized. I hope to continue to use knowledge gained through the Human Rights Clinic to advocate for those who are most vulnerable in our society.”
Gita Howard, Class of 2021
Legal Affairs Intern, United Nations
New York, NY
Other Clinics and Practicums: Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic, Children and Youth Law Clinic, Environmental Justice Clinic, Health Rights Clinic, Human Rights Clinic, Immigration Clinic, Innocence Clinic, Investor Rights Clinic, D.C. Semester in Practice Program, Tenants’ Rights Clinic.
Courses / Concentrations*
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.
Course in International Human Rights Law: This course examines the substantial body of human rights law that has emerged in the last sixty years, following the foundational 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It covers international and regional human rights treaties, organizations, and bodies, including courts and tribunals. It will also look at practice, implementation, and domestic application of international law. Lectures and seminar style components are complemented by class exercises to facilitate analysis of practical human rights issues.
International Human Rights Law is offered as a 1L elective and as an upper level course. Students present 5-minute "TED talks" on topics in human rights law. Click here to see TED Talks from former students.
“Being a part of the Human Rights Clinic honed not only my oral and written advocacy skills, but it opened my eyes to the wide-range of opportunities available to law students interested in public interest work.”
Gabrielle Wynn, J.D. ‘20
Fellow, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
American Constitution Society
Alliance Against Human Trafficking
American Civil Liberties Union-UM
Child Advocacy Family Law
Human Rights Society
Immigration Students Law Association
Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition
International Law Society
Public Interest Leadership Board
Faculty in the Area of Human Rights
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. (Pictured: Faculty 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.)
- David Abraham, Professor of Law Emeritus
- Paula Arias, Lecturer in Law, Director International Moot Court Program
- Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Professor of Law and Director of the Human Rights Clinic
- Donna K. Coker, Professor of Law
- R. Denisse Córdova Montes, Practitioner in Residence & Lecturer in Law, Human Rights Clinic
- Tamar Ezer, Lecturer in Law, Associate Director of the Human Rights Clinic
- Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law
- Elizabeth M. Iglesias, Professor of Law
- Samantha Knights, Adjunct Faculty
- Romy Lerner, Associate Director, Immigration Clinic & Lecturer in Law
- JoNel Newman, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director, Health Rights Clinic
- James W. Nickel, Professor of Law Emeritus
- Bernard Oxman, Richard A. Hausler Professor of Law
- Bernard P. Perlmutter, Professor of Law & Co-Director, Children & Youth Law Clinic
- Ileana Porras, Senior Lecturer
- Alejandro Portes, Professor of Sociology and Law
- Stephen J. Schnably, Professor of Law
- Rebecca Sharpless, Professor of Law and Director, Immigration Clinic
- Kele Stewart, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning, Professor of Clinical Legal Education, Co-Director, Children and Youth Law Clinic
- Irwin P. Stotzky, Professor of Law
(PICTURED: Professor Stephen Schnably exchanging ideas with students from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellin, Colombia, visiting for a human rights colloquium.)
"The courses and experiences offered at the University of Miami School of law prepared me to work on relevant, multi-faceted international law and policy issues, with a focus on health and human rights law. The International Law LL.M. programme, the Human Rights Clinic, the International moot court programme, and the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center [pictured in 2010 HOPE Namibian neutral trial observers' programm] offer students rich opportunities to understand current and complex human rights issues, and directly apply new skills through litigation, advocacy, and other tools with the support of experienced professors. For me, the experiences at UM law helped lead to a career using law and policy to work towards improving access to quality health services for vulnerable populations in lower resourced countries facing significant health challenges. UM law has much to offer those who aim to work in both international and domestic forums."
Drew Aiken, J.D./LL.M. in International Law '12 and former Human Rights Clinic intern
Health Policy Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
UN Advocacy with The Human Rights Clinic (PICTURED: Professor Tamar Ezer and Gabrielle Wynn, J.D. ’20 participate in Estonia’s review before the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.)
In addition to international projects with the Human Rights Clinic, Miami Law has an exchange program with Comillas Pontifical University in Spain which is known for its courses in human rights law.
Human Rights Events
(PICTURED: Professor Tamar Ezer, Conor Arevalo, J.D. ’21 Melanie Ng, J.D. ’21 David Stuzin, J.D. ’21 present at the Petty Offenses Symposium: Challenging Criminalization of Poverty and Marginalization.)
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. Miami Law faculty and the student-led Human Rights Society (@miamilawhrs) further organize various human rights events each semester. Please find current and past Human Rights Program Events.
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 inspired a whole generation of human rights lawyers, scholars, and activists, including some of Miami Law's professors. Click here to see a listing of all past lectures.
Human Rights Symposia and Conferences
International Law & COVID-19- April 12, 16 2021
Gender Justice in the Americas: A Transnational Dialogue on Sexuality, Violence, Reproduction & Human Rights- February 23-25, 2011
Defending the Human Rights of Migrants Lecture Series
Careers in Crimmigration - January 22, 2020
Family Separation and Immigration Detention in the US - November 7, 2019
SB 168: Florida’s New Anti-Immigrant Law - September 16, 2019
Internships / Fellowships
HOPE Public Interest Resource Center (HOPE)
Home to many opportunities to do human rights work nationally and internationally, HOPE also regularly hosts information sessions on landing a job, fellowship or internship in the public interest and in human rights.
“Miami Law, first and foremost through the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center, has given me the ability to fund life-changing fellowships both my summers in law school. Without that funding, I would have never been able to do the work I did. I also gained irreplaceable experience from both the Human Rights and Immigration clinics, especially the Time's Up Project that took me out of the law school and into different parts of Miami-Dade County, working alongside community advocates. Of course, nothing beats having experience with real clients.”
Alexis Bay, J.D. ‘20
Fellow, Texas Civil Rights Project
Miami Scholars Public Interest Program Scholarships are granted to students with outstanding academic achievements and commitment to public service.
Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program - provides summer stipends to students to create their dream jobs in human rights and public interest anywhere across the globe.
Career Development Office (CDO) - The Career Development Office supports human rights law placements, advises students looking for human rights-related work, and provides information on Post-Graduate Fellowships.
My participation in the Human Rights Clinic was an important part of my education at Miami Law and has helped position me to work as a lawyer in a range of different spaces. Not only did I have the opportunity to work with and learn from incredible instructors and colleagues, I had the privilege of collaborating with members of diverse communities and made lasting connections with networks of legal professionals. While doing global human rights work on HIV and gender as a fellow at Georgetown Law’s Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship, I was able to use the substantive knowledge, interpersonal skills, and experience and understanding of international institutions and processes that I gained through my study of human rights at Miami Law. The Human Rights Clinic also helped me develop critical thinking, legal writing, and organizational skills that I have used during my judicial clerkships and continue to use in my current position in private practice, where I focus on appellate and constitutional law.
Rachel A. Oostendorp, J.D. ‘13
Attorney at Law, Carlton Fields
Sampling of Past Placements
Miami Law students have obtained various human rights placements, including:
American Civil Liberties Union
Center for Children’s Law and Policy, (Washington, DC)
Center for Reproductive Rights (New York, NY)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales - CELS (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Council for Children’s Rights (Charlotte, NC)
Environmental Law Institute
Equal Rights Advocates (San Francisco, CA)
Florida Department of Health
Florida Justice Institute
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Washington, DC)
International Criminal Court (The Hague, Netherlands)
Institute for Human Rights (Berlin, Germany)
Lambda Legal (New York, NY)
Legal Aid MLK Summer Internship Program (Raleigh, NC)
Miami-Dade School Board
Public Defender's Office
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (Washington, DC)
United Nations (New York, NY)
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom-USCIRF (Washington, DC)
*Lists courses currently or recently offered in this area, but this list is not exhaustive nor does it set out a path of study.