Human rights lawyers deal with a variety of tasks, including preparing important legal documents, researching legal cases, negotiating difficult settlements, and pleading before the courts. They require critical and analytical thinking skills, the ability to communicate eloquently, and the ability to effectively advocate for a case. Human rights lawyers need a Juris Doctor (J.D.) as an academic qualification and they must be accurate and persuasive and have an exquisite knowledge of relevant laws and legal codes in global, regional and local environments. Examples of important skills as a human rights lawyer include: The United Nations system provides employment opportunities for people with a wide range of academic backgrounds, particularly lawyers. Therefore, the chances of finding a legal job/internship at the UN are very high! Nevertheless, it is important to know that the selection processes to be part of an international organization team are extremely competitive and for this reason, good preparation is essential if you want to succeed. T. Alexander: My legal career had a very conventional preamble, and I could never have imagined working on some of the most interesting and important legal transactions in the world for the UN. During my final year in law school, I joined summer partner positions where I worked on international transactions and litigation in the IT and pharmaceutical industries. At the end of the program, I attended an interview for an associate position that I learned I had also passed. However, the ripple effects of the 2008 financial crisis eventually caught up with the company I worked for, and HR couldn`t commit to an exact start date for that quarter. Instead of sitting idly by, I decided to do a three-month internship at the United Nations Headquarters for Asia-Pacific. T. Alexander: I think the most important trait that lawyers dealing with international careers should have and improve is tenacity.
Lawyers` international careers are special in that they require us to step outside the comfort of our own jurisdiction and design, comment on and agree on issues that go far beyond what any course could have taught us. This can be extremely uncomfortable unless the situation is rethought as an opportunity and the discomfort is used as a motivation to learn and improve your skills. At the same time, careers in international organizations or leading lawyers working on international transactions take you on trips around the world – and not always to places of your choice or taste. While mobility is a wonderful gateway to understanding and experiencing global cultural diversity, it can also lead to a sense of detachment from one`s own community. Before choosing a university, you should take the time to research law schools in the United States or elsewhere with an excellent human rights record. Choosing a law school focused on human rights and international law will help you foster your passion, gain experience and network for your future career. Entry-level internships and start-up programs can help you get a foot in the door to the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations. Undergraduate and graduate students work to earn experience and academic credits through generally unpaid internships. Many high-level law programs will place students in relevant internship programs. The International Organization Careers Program of the U.S.
Department of State lists the largest number of internships at the United Nations. The United Nations also offers a competitive recruitment test for future United Nations staff. The organization also hires volunteer lawyers as part of its volunteer program. T. Alexander: It`s not as important as you might think. Many unnecessarily emphasize the importance of language skills or knowledge of local laws, both of which can be overcome by a few months of dedicated homework there. I`ve found that the only thing that can`t be compensated for is the lack of tenacity and courage – everything else will follow when you take the first step and enter the field. Employers are also looking for talent to cultivate rather than ready-made packages, and the basic language skills and willingness to learn will surely get you through the door. These three months of international trade and investment ranged from consultations with the Executive Office of the Organization to my current position in the Department of Management of the United Nations Secretariat, where I support the Organization and its affiliates in international transactions and internal financial compliance. The scope, substance and overall ambition of my work are identical to those of large law firms dealing with cross-border transactions, with the main difference that our team is made up of ambitious international civil servants instead of partner-oriented staff. T. Alexander: The United Nations system is one of the most rewarding jobs for lawyers who find their way.
So far, I haven`t had to make any sacrifices regarding the challenges and scope of the substantive issue I want to work on, and I`ve been touched by the opportunity to use my transactional skills for the world`s largest global organization that, cliché or not, exists to make the world a better place. As a human rights lawyer, you can work for human rights tribunals such as the European Court of Human Rights or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and you can also work for non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. Human rights lawyers also often work in companies, law firms and chambers. A Juris Doctor degree is an academic qualification that confirms the completion of a three-year law degree. Each school has specific requirements and credits. Today, many law schools offer full-time or part-time degrees to accommodate different schedules. Even during your studies, there are many opportunities to gain practical experience and deepen your understanding of the work of human rights lawyers. T. Alexander: If I had had the opportunity, I would have spent much less time dealing with substance-specific courses such as intellectual property and patents, about which I wrote a lot during my law studies.
Instead, I would focus on general principles such as organizational theory, which have a universal appeal and tenacity that is lacking in jurisprudence and regulations. In addition, I would have combined the study of economics much earlier, albeit through independent studies or courses here and there, given the importance of understanding the business context of the decisions in which lawyers are involved. I have learned the hard way from these shortcomings, and in recent years I have undertaken off-duty studies to expand my skills with tools such as assessment, econometrics and macroeconomics. As long as my bank account can handle it, I hope to continue studying, with a view to a master`s or doctoral degree in economics as a next step. The United Nations seeks to maintain peace among nations by providing a platform for dialogue. This international organization also promotes economic development and human rights campaigns. United Nations lawyers work in various areas of international law, such as environmental law, the law of the sea, commercial law and treaty drafting. To become a lawyer for the United Nations, you need a solid background in international law and experience working in intergovernmental organizations.
If you finally decide to come back, your earning potential and lateral attractiveness will more than make up for the slower start. I`ve found that expat communities are extremely welcoming, with virtually everyone you meet who is willing to jump at the chance to lead and mentor young lawyers who follow in their footsteps. Plus, I take every opportunity to give advice and guidance wherever I can, and I highly recommend looking for experts in the organizations you`re looking at and spreading a cold email that will likely receive a warm response. As for some politically oriented organizations, you can also contact embassies and consulates, whose recommendations and support can sometimes help you a lot to progress. Before we begin, take a step back and ask yourself: Why do you want to become a human rights lawyer? What are the most important causes for you? What human rights violations inspire you to act? If you`re looking to make a positive difference in people`s lives instead of maximizing your monthly salary, becoming a human rights lawyer might be a good choice for you. .