Noble Foundation gift expands reach and impact of Duke Law’s human rights program
A $500,000 gift to the International Human Rights Clinic from the Donald and Alice Noble Foundation has allowed Duke Law to build upon the early accomplishments in its human rights program and to expand experiential and real-world learning opportunities to students, while also broadening Duke Law’s impact in the community. In making the gift, David D. Noble ’66, president of the Noble Foundation, told Dean David F. Levi that it was “a privilege” to support an expansion of the program and that “it is hard to imagine any more important work.”
In particular, the support, through the hire of Sarah Adamczyk as human rights clinical fellow and supervising attorney last fall, has enabled expanded enrollment in the clinic, a new Advanced International Human Rights Clinic, increased mentoring and career advising to students, as well as an expanded Human Rights Practitioner Series run by the clinic and the Center for International and Comparative Law.
Both the regular and advanced clinics, which are directed by Clinical Professor Jayne Huckerby, enable students to critically engage with compelling human rights issues, strategies, tactics, institutions, and law in both domestic and international settings.
“The International Human Rights Clinic, Advanced International Human Rights Clinic, and International Human Rights Advocacy Seminar attract students dedicated to human rights and social justice,” said Huckerby. “By expanding the program we can cater to students oriented towards human rights careers both in and out of government, as well as those going into private practice for whom public interest and service are a critical part of their professional identity.”
Adamczyk brings extensive experience in human rights fieldwork
Before joining the clinic faculty, Adamczyk worked with the Norwegian Refugee Council for four years, running legal and humanitarian programs in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, and Ukraine, which included coordination of legal assistance to displaced populations as well as research, advocacy, and strategic litigation. She has experience managing projects with U.S. legal clinics, supervising students in fieldwork, and a track record of partnerships with local and international human rights institutions, including U.N. agencies. Her research and advocacy have primarily focused on refugee law and forced migration, humanitarian assistance, legal status, and access to housing, land, and property rights.
Earlier in her career Adamczyk, who received her JD from the University of California-Berkeley and holds an MSc in human rights from the London School of Economics and an LL M in human rights law from Queen’s University Belfast, worked in bankruptcy litigation at Sidley Austin and maintained an active pro bono practice. Adamczyk called her clinic work at Duke “immensely rewarding.” “It has provided opportunities to work with and mentor students as they explore their interests in human rights while maintaining an active engagement and practice in real-world advocacy,” she said.
Students develop skills essential to human rights advocacy
Launched in January 2014, the clinic offers students experiential learning opportunities in human rights law and advocacy. Through weekly seminars, fieldwork, and travel, students develop a range of practical tools and skills needed for human rights advocacy — such as fact-finding, litigating, 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. The clinic partners with a number of entities, including grassroots organizations, non-governmental groups, and intergovernmental institutions like the United Nations. “Clinic fieldwork provides great learning opportunities, often involving regions where human rights have not been strong,” Huckerby said. “There’s a lot of strategic thinking that goes into the work undertaken by clinical students, along with legal and factual research.”
Amy Cattle JD/LL M ’16 said she greatly appreciated the opportunity to perfect her research and writing skills and to gain critical experience working on a project with realworld significance. For Cattle, who worked at Human Rights First in Washington, D.C., prior to starting law school, the clinic’s partnership with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, on the topic of due diligence and human rights in the fall 2015 semester, offered “an inside look at how international human rights law is created.” Participation in an expert consultation on the topic at the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland, in particular “was a fascinating opportunity to view how our research contributed to the global framework of international human rights law,” she said. “It was also intellectually challenging to consider the practical impacts that our report would have on individual states while thinking through the ways in which we could make it as robust and effective as possible.”
Sara Salama LL M ’16 called the experience “an indispensable part” of her career advancement. “The International Human Rights Clinic was the deciding factor in my choice to enroll at Duke Law and it did not disappoint,” said Salama, who holds an LLB from BPP University College in the U.K. and a French civil law degree from Paris Descartes University, and interned at the U.N. High Commissioner Office for Refugees in Abu Dhabi in 2010. “The opportunity to work on a real project with real clients, attend meetings at the U.N. and with NGO s, all while improving my legal research and writing skills has given me invaluable insight into all of the various elements involved in the practice of international human rights law. The possibility to be enrolled in the advanced clinic has solidified the skills I learned in [my first semester] and allowed me to take more of an active and autonomous role. Additionally, the feedback I received from both Professor Huckerby and Professor Adamczyk has been incredibly helpful to my personal and professional growth and has vastly shaped the way in which I engage with international human rights law.”
“It is hard to imagine any more important work”
In making the gift to support expansion of the International Human Rights Clinic, David Noble told Dean Levi that he and his daughter, Elizabeth Noble ’05, were pleased to learn of strong student interest in human rights at Duke Law School, linking an appreciation for human rights with high ethical standards.
Noble, who specialized in trial litigation through a long career in practice, has been active in Democratic Party politics as well as community development. In a 2013 article in the Wooster, Ohio, Daily Record, a friend described him as a compassionate “defender of those who are not blessed with a lot of resources.” Elizabeth Noble, who started her career at Sullivan and Cromwell in Los Angeles, focuses on contracts, corporate, securities, and investment law in her own practice in Camden, Maine, and also works as a fine art photographer. Her brothers Matthew, a Noble Foundation trustee, and Scott also are Duke University alumni.
“We are incredibly grateful for the support the Noble Foundation has provided to strengthen our international human rights clinical curriculum as well as our programming for students interested in that field,” said Levi. “In addition to providing experiential learning opportunities, the clinic serves as a hub for increased mentorship for Duke Law students interested in human rights and international law. We are grateful for the Nobles’ support of our students’ education and in finding solutions to significant human rights problems around the world.”
In addition to addressing the Law School’s goals of strengthening its clinical program during the ongoing Duke Forward fundraising campaign, the Noble Foundation gift to the International Human Rights Clinic also counts towards the 50th reunion gift of the Class of 1966.