Human Rights Law

Carve Your Own Path and Follow Your Passion

The field of human rights law encompasses a wide array of topics. Miami Law students can pursue their own niche with our vast interdisciplinary offerings and complement their study of human rights law with courses in constitutional law, criminal law, family law, immigration law, international law, real estate law, and social justice and public interest law. Students learn to use the law to advance the rights of individuals and communities—from our own backyard in Miami to locations across the globe. Our students have a plethora of opportunities to gain hands-on advocacy experience. With our Human Rights Program and robust Human Rights Clinic and several other clinics and practicums directly addressing human rights issues, Miami Law allows its students to represent populations in need as part of their upper-level work. Given its large immigrant population and socioeconomic diversity, Miami provides an ideal setting to springboard your legal career in the United States or abroad. Students also gain access to our deep network of human rights lawyers, advocates, and scholars.

Some Facts about Miami and Miami Law

Read more on human rights law at Miami Law

Drew Aiken"The courses and experiences offered at the University of Miami School of law prepared me to work on 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 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 [pictured in Miami Law's Namibian neutral trial observers' program]
Humanitarian Affairs and Advocacy Manager, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
Juba, South Sudan

Courses*

  • Affordable Housing
  • Business and Human Rights
  • Children and the Law
  • Civil Rights Litigation
  • Climate Change and Human Rights
  • Constitutional Law I, II, and III
  • Cross-Cultural Collaboration
  • Cuba: Law, Policy, and Transition
  • Death Penalty in Decline
  • Death Penalty Litigation
  • Developing Affordable Housing
  • Disability Law
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Employment Law
  • Federal Indian Law
  • Human Rights
  • Gender Violence, Social Justice, and the Law
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Housing Discrimination
  • Human Rights and the Environment
  • Human Trafficking
  • Immigration, Ethnicity, and Public Policy
  • Immigration Law
  • Immigration Law and Policy
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Economic Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • International Human Rights Lawyering and Advocacy
  • International Law
  • International Treaties
  • Legal Advocacy and Same-Sex Marriage
  • Mental Health Law
  • Philosophies of Sentencing
  • Policing the Police
  • Race and Economic Justice
  • Race and the Law Race, Class, and Power: The #BlackLivesMatter Movement
  • Sexuality, Gender Identity, and the Law
  • Slavery and Commercial Law
  • Social Impact Advocacy
  • Torture and the Law
  • Treaty Interpretation
  • UN Negotiations
  • Voting Rights and Election Law
  • Wrongful Convictions

*Course list is not exhaustive and does not set out a path of study.

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Gabrielle WynnBeing 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
Washington, D.C.

International Opportunities

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Extracurricular Opportunities

  • Alliance Against Human Trafficking
  • American Constitution Society
  • American Civil Liberties Union-UM|
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Charles C. Papy Moot Court Board
  • Child Advocacy Family Law Society
  • Cuban-American Bar Association (CABA)
  • Environmental Law Society
  • First-Generation Law Association
  • Hispanic Law Students Association
  • Human Rights Society
  • Immigration Students Law Association
  • International Law Society
  • International Moot Court Board
  • Public Interest Leadership Board
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • South/West Asian & North African Law Students Association
  • Trial Team

Gita HowardThe 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, J.D. '21
Human Rights Accountability Fellow, Human Rights First
Washington, D.C.

Externships and Internships**

  • AICES’ Family Detention Services Program (Karnes City, TX)
  • ACLU (New York, NY and Atlanta, GA) 
  • ACLU of Florida, LGBTQ+ Rights Division
  • American Bar Association Commission on Immigration (Washington, DC)
  • Americans for Immigrant Justice
  • Anti-Defamation League (New York, NY)
  • Capital Appeals Project (New Orleans, LA)
  • Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (Washington, DC) 
  • Center for Children’s Law and Policy (Washington, DC)
  • Center for Reproductive Rights (New York, NY)
  • Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales - CELS (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Children’s Law Center (Washington, DC)
  • Council for Children’s Rights (Charlotte, NC)
  • Equal Rights Advocates (San Francisco, CA)
  • FairVote (Washington, DC)
  • Florida Department of Children and Families
  • Florida Department of Health
  • Florida Immigration Advocacy Center
  • Florida Justice Institute
  • German Institute for Human Rights (Berlin, Germany)
  • Human Rights First
  • Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Washington, DC)
  • International Criminal Court (The Hague, Netherlands) 
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Arusha, Tanzania)
  • Lambda Legal (New York, NY)
  • Legal Aid (Raleigh, NC)
  • Miami-Dade Legal Aid
  • Miami-Dade School Board
  • Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (Kalamazoo, MI)
  • National Women’s Law Center (Washington, DC)
  • Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (Washington, DC)
  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  • Texas Civil Rights Project (Austin, TX)
  • The Arc National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (Washington, DC)
  • United Nations (New York, NY)
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (London, United Kingdom)
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (Atlanta, GA)
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights (Chicago, IL)

**List is not exhaustive and is intended to provide examples of past externships and internships.

Charlotte CasselThe 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, J.D. ‘14
Director of Strategic Partnerships at Health Information Project (HIP), Inc.
Miami, FL

Faculty Experts

Stephen Schnably(PICTURED: Professor Stephen Schnably exchanging ideas with students from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellin, Colombia, visiting for a human rights colloquium.)

 

  • David Abraham, Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Paula Arias, Lecturer in Law, Director International Moot Court Program, is an expert in dispute resolution in Latin America.
  • Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Professor of Law and Director of the Human Rights Clinic, is an expert in human rights, women and children's rights.
  • Caroline Bradley, Professor of Law; Dean's Distinguished Scholar; Associate Dean for International and Graduate Programs
  • Donna K. Coker, Professor of Law, focuses on criminal law, gender and inequality. She is a nationally recognized expert in domestic violence law and policy.
  • R. Denisse Córdova Montes, Acting Associate Director, Human Rights Clinic & Lecturer in Law
  • Caroline Mala Corbin, Professor of Law; Dean's Distinguished Scholar
  • Andrew Elmore, Associate Professor of Law
  • Tamar Ezer, Acting Director, Human Rights Clinic; Faculty Director, Human Rights Program; Lecturer in Law  
  • Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar, is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of civil rights and technology.
  • Elizabeth M. Iglesias, Professor of Law, is a co-founder of the LatCrit movement (the legal, economic and other difficulties facing the Latina/o community), also has taught international criminal law and international economic law.
  • Robert Latham, Associate Director, Children and Youth Law Clinic; Lecturer in Law
  • Marni Lennon, Assistant Dean, Public Interest and Pro Bono; Director, HOPE Public Interest Resource Center; Lecturer in Law teaches in the area of social justice advocacy.
  • JoNel Newman, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director, Health Rights Clinic, teaches professional responsibility and civil procedure. 
  • James W. Nickel, Professor of Law and Philosophy Emeritus
  • Bernard Oxman, Richard A. Hausler Professor of Law, is the one of the world's leading experts on the Law of the Sea. 
  • Jessica Owley, Professor of Law; is the Faculty Director, Environmental Law Program.
  • Bernard P. Perlmutter, Professor of Law & Co-Director, Children & Youth Law Clinic, teaches and supervises second- and third-year law students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned and neglected children and adolescents in a variety of legal proceedings, including dependency and foster care, public benefits, health care, mental health, disability, education and immigration cases, in addition to appellate, legislative and administrative advocacy and law reform litigation.
  • Madeleine Plasencia, Visiting Professor of Law/Scholar
  • Ileana Porras, Senior Lecturer, teaches international Law and international environmental law.
  • Pablo Rueda Saiz, Associate Professor of Law
  • Gabriel Scheffler, Associate Professor of Law, works primarily in the areas of health law and policy, administrative law, and occupational regulation.
  • Stephen J. Schnably, Professor of Law, writes in the fields of international human rights law, the OAS human rights system, comparative constitutional law, and the relationship of international law to constitutional law. He has taught international law, international human rights, and comparative constitutional law.
  • Rebecca Sharpless, Professor of Law and Director, Immigration Clinic, researches and writes in the areas of progressive lawyering, feminist theory, and the intersection of immigration and criminal law.
  • Kele Stewart, Professor of Clinical Legal Education, Co-Director, Children and Youth Law Clinic, teaches courses on family and juvenile law and legal practice.  Her scholarship is in the areas of child welfare, children’s rights and clinical education.  
  • Irwin P. Stotzky, Professor of Law, has worked over three decades to improve human rights in Haiti and the status of Haitian immigrants in the U.S. 
  • Melissa Swain, Associate Director, Health Rights Clinic; Lecturer in Law
  • Craig Trocino, Director of the Innocence Clinic, teaches classes in post-conviction litigation and federal sentencing. His areas of concentration are in appellate practice and post-conviction litigation and he maintains research interests in criminal law, habeas corpus and appellate practice.
  • Marcia Narine Weldon, Professor of Legal Writing and Lecturer in Law, is an expert in business and corporate law, corporate governance, labor and employment law, compliance, business and human rights, and ESG (environmental, social, and governance).

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  • Conferences, Lectures

    Human rights scholars speakingRenowned 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 further organize various human rights events each semester. (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.)

    Sample past Human Rights Symposia and Conferences have included:

    • International Law & COVID-19 - April 12, 16 2021
    • Petty Offenses: Challenging Criminalization of Poverty, Marginalization, and Gender Non-Conformity - September 20-21, 2019
    • Defending the Human Rights of Migrants Lecture Series
    • A New Kind of “War on Poverty” – The Trump Administration’s Policies Toward Vulnerable Immigrants - February 18, 2020
    • 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
    • Gender Justice in the Americas: A Transnational Dialogue on Sexuality, Violence, Reproduction & Human Rights - February 23-25, 2011

    See all current and past Human Rights Program Events.

    Rachel A. OostendorpMy 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
    Miami, FL

  • Centers

    HOPE Public Interest Resource Center - 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 and supports students looking to work in the area of human rights and offers these programs:

    • Miami Scholars Public Interest Program
    • Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program

    Alexis BayMiami 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