Human Rights Lawyer

Job Description:

A Human Rights Lawyer specialises in advocating for and defending the legal rights and freedoms of individuals and groups, often in cases involving discrimination, injustice, or human rights violations.

Job Category:

What you will do:

As a human rights lawyer, you will be:

  • Representing clients in legal proceedings to protect their human rights and civil liberties
  • Investigating cases, statutes, and international treaties to build strong legal arguments
  • Gathering evidence, preparing legal documents, and filing petitions or complaints
  • Taking cases to court, arguing before judges, and defending clients’ rights through legal proceedings
  • Seeking amicable resolutions through negotiations, settlements, or mediation when possible
  • Providing counsel to clients on their rights and legal options
  • Engaging in advocacy work to shape policies, laws, and regulations that protect human rights
  • Raising awareness about human rights issues through public speaking, workshops, and legal education programs
  • Collaborating with international organisations to address human rights violations on a global scale
  • Offering emotional support and resources to clients facing human rights abuses
  • Building alliances with other human rights advocates, organisations, and agencies
  • Monitoring human rights violations, documenting abuses, and raising awareness about them


You will need:

  • in-depth understanding of domestic and international laws, treaties, and conventions related to human rights
  • knowledge in constitutional law, international law and case law
  • strong research skills to gather evidence, statutes, and legal arguments to support your cases
  • an awareness of political structures, governance, and policies that impact human rights

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

While there are no specific GCSE subject requirements for becoming a Human Rights Lawyer, beneficial subjects can include:

  1. History: Provides background knowledge on historical events related to human rights.
  2. Politics/Government: Helps in understanding legal and political systems.
  3. Ethics: Develops critical thinking about ethical issues, which is crucial in human rights work.
  4. Law-related subjects (if available): Offers an introduction to legal concepts and systems.
  5. Foreign Languages: Language skills can be valuable, especially if working in international human rights.

Remember that these subjects can provide a useful foundation but are not strict prerequisites for pursuing a career in human rights law. The most critical educational steps come during law school and specialised human rights studies.

To become a Human Rights Lawyer, you need the following qualifications and requirements:


Obtain a bachelor’s degree (usually four years) in any field, followed by a law degree (LL.B or J.D.), typically requiring three years of study. It’s advisable to choose courses or electives related to human rights and international law during your legal education.

Bar Admission

After law school, pass the bar examination in your jurisdiction to become a licensed attorney.

Internships and Experience

Gain practical experience through internships, clerkships, or volunteer work with organisations focusing on human rights, civil liberties, or international law.


Consider specialising in human rights law during your legal education or post-graduation through LL.M. programs or specialised courses.

Certification (Optional)

Consider obtaining certification in human rights law from recognized organisations or institutions.

Working Hours and Environment:

Human Rights Lawyers typically have flexible hours, split between office work (research, documentation, client meetings) and fieldwork (court appearances, advocacy, travel), often involving emotionally challenging situations in their commitment to human rights causes.

Career Path & Progression:

A  career path for a Human Rights Lawyer typically involves education, internships, entry-level positions, specialisation, advancing to mid-level roles, and potentially taking on leadership positions, policy advocacy, public advocacy, teaching, or independent practice while continuing to advocate for human rights throughout their career.