International Human Rights Law Clinic
Professor of Law
Director, International Human Rights Law Clinic
- Shana Tabak
Sr. Administrative Assistant
Asylum Cases and Human Rights Cases and Projects
The International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) offers student attorneys the opportunity to represent individuals, families or organizations alleging violations of recognized or developing human rights norms before international and domestic judicial bodies.
The IHRLC provides representation in two types of cases: international human rights cases and projects and political asylum cases. In the human rights area, student attorneys draft pleadings and other submissions, present evidence, witnesses and arguments in oral proceedings, and often will struggle with issues of client contact and fact gathering over long distances with difficult means of communication. Student attorneys have represented clients in cases before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, the African Commission on Human Rights, United Nations human rights treaty bodies, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Armed Forces, and U.S. District Courts and currently represents one of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in federal court. Student attorneys also work on projects to influence U.S. law and policy on human rights issues.
The IHRLC also provides representation to refugees seeking asylum in the U. S. as a result of political persecution in their countries of origin. Student attorneys meet and counsel clients and their families and appear as counsel in hearings and appeals at which they introduce evidence, call witnesses and present oral and written arguments on behalf of their clients. In past academic years, student attorneys have obtained asylum for clients from Sierra Leone, Angola, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Cameroon, to name a few.
The IHRLC features a seminar which meets once each week for two hours, followed by one hour of case rounds, for a total of three hours of class each week. Student attorney teams of two meet at least every other week with their supervising attorney to discuss their cases. The course focuses on lawyering skills, ethical issues and preparation for the practice of law. Teaching methods are experiential and student-focused including extensive use of simulation and role-playing exercises. Additionally, some time is devoted to issues of the role of attorneys in social change and long-term professional satisfaction. Summer reading and orientation either the week before classes start or during the first weekend of the fall are required parts of the curriculum.