Human Rights Law

Human Rights Law

Miami Law provides students with broad academic and experiential learning opportunities in the field of human rights. Course offerings and 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 in Human Rights

Miami Law Clinics: 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. 

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.

(Pictured: Clinic students attend meetings at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.; class of 2014 Daniel Kinney, Human Rights Clinic Client-Jessica Lenahan, Human Rights Clinic Director and Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Former Human Rights Clinic Supervising Attorney Kelleen Corrigan and Class of 2014 Charlotte Cassel)

Projects have included:

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. 

 See List of Opportunities

  • Scholarships granted to students with outstanding academic achievements and commitment to public service.
  • HOPE Fellowship Program - 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 (CDO)

The CDO supports human rights law placements, advises students looking for human rights-related work, and provides information on Post-Graduate Fellowships.

Externship Program - Through this program, Miami Law 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.

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. 

 See List of Courses and Seminars

  • 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

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.)

Faculty Experts in Human Rights

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

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. Miami Law faculty and students also contribute to these series and conferences on human rights issues. (Pictured: 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.)

 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. Miami Law created a lecture series in his memory, which has included the following lectures by illustrious speakers:

 International Law Lecture Series

The International Law Lecture Series is run by the International Graduate Law Programs which often 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 Symposia, Conferences and Speaker Series

The Immigration Clinic has organized lectures relating to Immigration Law and Human Rights. Specific events have included:

  • Immigration Defense Conference – This was a CLE Seminar & Stakeholder Meeting in April 2014  for advocates, organizers, and other nongovernment stakeholders to provide a forum for lawyers and nonlawyers in Florida to discuss strategies for defending immigrants against unlawful government action. Sponsors included: Miami Law Immigration Clinic, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Miami Law Student Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Florida Immigrant Coalition, and We Count!
  • Immigration Damages Litigation - This all-day CLE training in January 2013, focused on using litigation as a tool to hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct and abuse committed against noncitizens in detention facilities, on the border, and during vehicle stops and raids. Topics included litigation under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Bivens, § 1983 as well as motion and discovery practice. The training was co-sponsored by National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, National Police Accountability Project, and National Lawyers Guild, Miami Law Student Chapter Southern Region Chapter.
  • National Lawyers Guild Southern Regional Conference – This annual event was hosted by Miami Law’s Immigration Clinic in May 2012. Progressive lawyers, law students, and legal workers from around the South got together for inspiration, sharing, learning, and community building, to explore ways to promote and defend human rights. For more information see NLGSouthernRegion.

Immigration Speaker Series

Past presentations have 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.

 Gender Justice in the Americas: A Transnational Dialogue on Sexuality, Violence, Reproduction & Human Rights

Miami Law’s 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.

 Student Organization Sponsored Lectures

Domestic Violence Panel discussion

  • 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-Run Activities

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.

Human Rights at Miami Law

Human Rights Clinic

Director of the Human Rights Clinic, Professor Caroline Bettinger-López, served as lead counsel on Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States, the first case to be brought by a domestic violence victim against the U.S. before an international tribunal.  Home Truth, a documentary about Jessica Lenahan’s fight for justice, premiered at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in June 2017.

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.

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

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, spoke with students interested in applying for a Skadden fellowship and pursuing a career in public interest law. Click here to view the conversation

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

Human Rights at Miami Law

Human Rights Clinic

Director of the Human Rights Clinic, Professor Caroline Bettinger-López, served as lead counsel on Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States, the first case to be brought by a domestic violence victim against the U.S. before an international tribunal.  Home Truth, a documentary about Jessica Lenahan’s fight for justice, premiered at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in June 2017.

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.

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

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, spoke with students interested in applying for a Skadden fellowship and pursuing a career in public interest law. Click here to view the conversation

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