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Public service is a core value of the legal profession and central to the Duke Law experience.
Summer studies in Geneva and Durham prepare students for careers in international law.
The Duke Legal Clinics allow students to build an experiential bridge between law school and practice. The International Human Rights Clinic and Advanced International Human Rights Clinic enable students to critically engage with cutting-edge human rights issues, strategies, tactics, institutions, and law in both domestic and international settings. Through weekly seminars, fieldwork and travel, students develop a range of practical tools and skills needed for human rights advocacy—such as fact-finding, litigation, indicators, reporting, and messaging—that integrate interdisciplinary methods and new technologies. Students also develop competencies related to managing trauma in human rights work, as well as the ethical and accountability challenges of human rights lawyering.
Types of clinic projects include those that: apply a human rights framework to domestic issues; involve human rights advocacy abroad; engage with international institutions to advance human rights; and/or address human rights in U.S. foreign policy. Students work closely with local organizations, international NGOs, and U.N. human rights experts and bodies to to address a range of human rights issues, including from trafficking in persons to gun violence to the impact of counter-terrorism financing rules on human rights. This has involved, for example:
- undertaking research and drafting of high-level U.N. reports and guidelines and preparing sensitive U.N. fact-finding missions in numerous countries, including in Latin America and Asia;
- conducting fact-finding and documentation efforts on human rights and counter-terrorism that involves interviewing governmental, non-governmental, and intergovernmental organizations in London, New York, and Washington D.C. and collaborating with women’s rights organizations in contexts such as Iraq;
- providing strategic and legal guidance to non-governmental organizations in the United States on how to apply a humans rights lens to U.S. issues;
- convening and capacity-building of domestic, regional, and international actors on human trafficking issues, including in Amman, Jordan; and
- analyzing survey data of interviews conducted with women’s organizations, particularly in the Middle East and North African and Asian regions.
For information on enrollment in the International Human Rights Clinic and Advanced International Human Rights Clinic, see the course description.
In addition to the International Human Rights Clinic and Advanced International Human Rights Clinic, a number of other Duke Legal Clinics, including the Guantanamo Defense Clinic and the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, provide students challenging opportunities to deepen their substantive legal knowledge, strengthen their lawyering skills, and build their professional identities in areas that impact human rights.