Local Human Rights Lawyering Project
In 2011, the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law created the Local Human Rights Lawyering (LHRL) Project, an initiative funded by the Ford Foundation that aimed to normalize international human rights law at the local level by incorporating the use of the international human rights framework into the everyday work of legal aid attorneys in the U.S. The Project was the first of its kind, providing training, coaching, and resources to experienced legal aid attorneys—at Maryland Legal Aid (MDLAB) and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid — to use the human rights law framework and integrate human rights arguments into advocacy before judges and policy makers to expand protections for the most vulnerable persons in the U.S. It also expanded on nearly ten years of work by the Center promoting human rights law in the U.S. through trainings, workshops, conferences, mentoring, and research.
Directed by AUWCL alumna Lauren Bartlett, the Project had significant impact working with legal aid attorneys and other public interest advocates across the U.S. to transform the way that human rights are understood and incorporated into the practice of law at the most local level. Among the Project’s many successes are: the training of more than 1600 attorneys across the U.S. through in-person meetings and webinars; the first-ever filing of a joint legal aid complaint to a UN Special Procedure; the expanded use of human rights arguments in legal aid cases in local courts and before policymakers; and the first-of-its-kind civil society human rights consultation with the United States Government on Access to Justice.