Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

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observationalist
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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby observationalist » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:42 pm

dcg2120 wrote:Woah. I had to double-check that I was still on TLS when I found this thread.

Anyways, since this looks like a safe space to come out: I am also interested in working in international environmental policy/law. Ideally I'd like to work with an environmental NGO that has a global reach--the NRDC or similar. I would also be interested in working with the State Department but it is my understanding that the legal positions there are very selective. I have very little work experience (1 year out from UG), but it is focused on global sustainable development issues and environmental politics (internship related to SusDev, various paid and unpaid research projects, possibly a publication by the end of the year).

I am lucky enough to be choosing between Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and Berkeley. My question for observationalist and anyone else who has an idea is: how much should I weight the prestige of the school against the prestige of its international and environmental programs? Harvard obviously wins the prestige contest (and the LRAP contest, but as I read it my preferred work would be eligible for LRAP at all of these schools). I'm told NYU is the best pick for international law, though they seem to be focused on human rights. Columbia has the Center for Climate Change Law but otherwise seems pretty corporate-focused. Berkeley is supposed to be good for international and environmental stuff but I know very little about it.

I've stalked some of the people whose jobs I want, and it seems like most of them are from NYU, Berkeley and other schools well known for their environmental programs (UC Boulder, UVT). Do you think this is self-selection (i.e. Harvard grads could get these jobs but prefer others) or does school specialization give a definite advantage in these fields?


I'll have to let worldtraveler or something else tackle the question on those schools, I was at Vanderbilt (which was awesome) and it's not in the same league. Those are all great programs and you may find once you're in law school that your interests shift as you become more knowledgeable of what legal practice looks like within each field. Truly international enviro law is almost non-existent; e-law mostly consists of regs and those are determined by each sovereign state. You might find a comparative law gig helping a think tank or an NGO research the laws of one country and providing input on the development of laws in another, but those jobs are incredibly competitive and probably rely a lot on luck. International policy as a field can be more broad because you have institutions trying to work together across borders on things like climate change mitigation and water conservation, so you end up with options with large NGOs based in NY/DC/CA, IGOs like the UNDP, UNFCCC, OAS, etc and probably some stuff in the private sector.

If you're looking to actually work abroad, I suggested in an earlier post to try and target the countries you're interested in and then seeing which of the programs you mentioned have the most recognition within their legal community. Otherwise I would think any of those programs will offer you something good, keeping in mind that you will be competing against people with similar or better credentials than you from all of the schools for a very small number of jobs. Without relevant work experience prior to law school you are effectively starting out of the gate behind a good number of those people. Something to think about I guess.

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observationalist
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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby observationalist » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:46 pm

Also FWIW I run a small enviro NGO in Chile and we would consider externships for people interested in the comparative law stuff. PM me for more info if anyone's interested in learning more, though we might not have the resources ready to take someone in time for this summer. I also don't really care if it's an official position or just someone who wants to help and learn a bit about how things work in Chile in exchange... we can be flexible.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby dcg2120 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:30 pm

observationalist wrote:I'll have to let worldtraveler or something else tackle the question on those schools, I was at Vanderbilt (which was awesome) and it's not in the same league. Those are all great programs and you may find once you're in law school that your interests shift as you become more knowledgeable of what legal practice looks like within each field. Truly international enviro law is almost non-existent; e-law mostly consists of regs and those are determined by each sovereign state. You might find a comparative law gig helping a think tank or an NGO research the laws of one country and providing input on the development of laws in another, but those jobs are incredibly competitive and probably rely a lot on luck. International policy as a field can be more broad because you have institutions trying to work together across borders on things like climate change mitigation and water conservation, so you end up with options with large NGOs based in NY/DC/CA, IGOs like the UNDP, UNFCCC, OAS, etc and probably some stuff in the private sector.

If you're looking to actually work abroad, I suggested in an earlier post to try and target the countries you're interested in and then seeing which of the programs you mentioned have the most recognition within their legal community. Otherwise I would think any of those programs will offer you something good, keeping in mind that you will be competing against people with similar or better credentials than you from all of the schools for a very small number of jobs. Without relevant work experience prior to law school you are effectively starting out of the gate behind a good number of those people. Something to think about I guess.

Thanks so much for getting back to me! Yes, I know it'll be tough to get a position regardless, but I guess I should've phrased the question better: in your experience, is the overall prestige of a school more important than its "specialization"? Obviously it's pretty difficult to say but I'm trying to get as much input as possible, so if you have an opinion one way or another that would be awesome. It seems like lacking significant WE makes this question even more important since on the one hand going to a 'specialty' school or program would help me signal my commitment to a specific field of law, and on the other hand going to the 'best' school would help compensate for my limited experience.

Thanks again for your help.

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worldtraveler
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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:21 pm

dcg2120 wrote:Woah. I had to double-check that I was still on TLS when I found this thread.

Anyways, since this looks like a safe space to come out: I am also interested in working in international environmental policy/law. Ideally I'd like to work with an environmental NGO that has a global reach--the NRDC or similar. I would also be interested in working with the State Department but it is my understanding that the legal positions there are very selective. I have very little work experience (1 year out from UG), but it is focused on global sustainable development issues and environmental politics (internship related to SusDev, various paid and unpaid research projects, possibly a publication by the end of the year).

I am lucky enough to be choosing between Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and Berkeley. My question for observationalist and anyone else who has an idea is: how much should I weight the prestige of the school against the prestige of its international and environmental programs? Harvard obviously wins the prestige contest (and the LRAP contest, but as I read it my preferred work would be eligible for LRAP at all of these schools). I'm told NYU is the best pick for international law, though they seem to be focused on human rights. Columbia has the Center for Climate Change Law but otherwise seems pretty corporate-focused. Berkeley is supposed to be good for international and environmental stuff but I know very little about it.

I've stalked some of the people whose jobs I want, and it seems like most of them are from NYU, Berkeley and other schools well known for their environmental programs (UC Boulder, UVT). Do you think this is self-selection (i.e. Harvard grads could get these jobs but prefer others) or does school specialization give a definite advantage in these fields?


For environmental law, I would definitely recommend Berkeley. The school's program is very strong, although unfortunately our main enviro/int'l prof is leaving at the end of this year. I would suggest deferring law school for a bit though and getting some more real world experience, especially if you're interested in int'l development.

I don't know much about it, but there are some Berkeley students with these interests who do a joint degree with the Energy Resources graduate program. That may be something to consider.

As for weighing prestige, only let strength of a specialty program influence your decision between peer schools. Between Berkeley and Penn for instance, pick the one with the better programs. Between Georgetown and Vermont, still pick Gtown even if Vermont has better enviro stuff.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby gatorgirl2012 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:00 pm

Does anyone have advice on landing international organization jobs from a non-t14 school? Or is this a laughable ambition? I know internships are a must but I'm just wondering what others have done in the past. This is something I'm just starting to research!

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby vividviolin » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:45 pm

dcg2120 wrote:Woah. I had to double-check that I was still on TLS when I found this thread.

Anyways, since this looks like a safe space to come out: I am also interested in working in international environmental policy/law. Ideally I'd like to work with an environmental NGO that has a global reach--the NRDC or similar. I would also be interested in working with the State Department but it is my understanding that the legal positions there are very selective. I have very little work experience (1 year out from UG), but it is focused on global sustainable development issues and environmental politics (internship related to SusDev, various paid and unpaid research projects, possibly a publication by the end of the year).

I am lucky enough to be choosing between Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and Berkeley. My question for observationalist and anyone else who has an idea is: how much should I weight the prestige of the school against the prestige of its international and environmental programs? Harvard obviously wins the prestige contest (and the LRAP contest, but as I read it my preferred work would be eligible for LRAP at all of these schools). I'm told NYU is the best pick for international law, though they seem to be focused on human rights. Columbia has the Center for Climate Change Law but otherwise seems pretty corporate-focused. Berkeley is supposed to be good for international and environmental stuff but I know very little about it.

I've stalked some of the people whose jobs I want, and it seems like most of them are from NYU, Berkeley and other schools well known for their environmental programs (UC Boulder, UVT). Do you think this is self-selection (i.e. Harvard grads could get these jobs but prefer others) or does school specialization give a definite advantage in these fields?


Some anecdotes to add to this discussion: I currently work at a small international human rights legal NGO, and we have a fellow who is working here for this year because she got a fellowship from HLS that covers her salary and travel expenses. There are two people who are applying for similar fellowships (one from Yale, another from a local law school) who will only work here next year if they get those fellowships. The ED and other attorneys here have said that they generally won't hire people straight out of law school, but will make an exception for people who come with their own funding. My impression is that schools like HYS tend to have more funding to give.

Also, I think it's good to look very closely at the LRAP. 10 years is a long time, and, even if your salary starts off below $60K or whatever, it's not necessarily going to stay that way. I know plenty of PI people who earn more than that after 5+ years out of law school.

Another thing to look at is the board of directors at the organizations with your dream jobs. Oftentimes professors serve on boards and nothing gets your foot in the door like having a professor/board member call up/email the ED to let them know about this awesome student they are mentoring...

It has been true in my experience that the caliber of the school overall matters, even in PI, but that people judge your school on its own merits (and you on your own merits). Obviously HYS snap up a lot of really awesome, talented, passionate people, but there are definitely plenty of awesome, talented, passionate people at other schools. There are non-T14 schools that we regularly get brilliant legal interns/lawyers from and there are T14 schools that I'm not sure have ever sent us interns/lawyers.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:34 pm

To expand on the last post, post graduate funding opportunities are huge. The T10 tends to have WAY more of those options than other schools, and within the T10 the options really vary as well. Same with summer funding for international positions. I'm working on evaluating intern applications right now for an abroad internship and there are a couple of quality interns from lower ranked schools who would have been great but could not get the funding to do it.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby cloudatlas » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:29 pm

vividviolin wrote:
dcg2120 wrote:Woah. I had to double-check that I was still on TLS when I found this thread.

Anyways, since this looks like a safe space to come out: I am also interested in working in international environmental policy/law. Ideally I'd like to work with an environmental NGO that has a global reach--the NRDC or similar. I would also be interested in working with the State Department but it is my understanding that the legal positions there are very selective. I have very little work experience (1 year out from UG), but it is focused on global sustainable development issues and environmental politics (internship related to SusDev, various paid and unpaid research projects, possibly a publication by the end of the year).

I am lucky enough to be choosing between Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and Berkeley. My question for observationalist and anyone else who has an idea is: how much should I weight the prestige of the school against the prestige of its international and environmental programs? Harvard obviously wins the prestige contest (and the LRAP contest, but as I read it my preferred work would be eligible for LRAP at all of these schools). I'm told NYU is the best pick for international law, though they seem to be focused on human rights. Columbia has the Center for Climate Change Law but otherwise seems pretty corporate-focused. Berkeley is supposed to be good for international and environmental stuff but I know very little about it.

I've stalked some of the people whose jobs I want, and it seems like most of them are from NYU, Berkeley and other schools well known for their environmental programs (UC Boulder, UVT). Do you think this is self-selection (i.e. Harvard grads could get these jobs but prefer others) or does school specialization give a definite advantage in these fields?


Some anecdotes to add to this discussion: I currently work at a small international human rights legal NGO, and we have a fellow who is working here for this year because she got a fellowship from HLS that covers her salary and travel expenses. There are two people who are applying for similar fellowships (one from Yale, another from a local law school) who will only work here next year if they get those fellowships. The ED and other attorneys here have said that they generally won't hire people straight out of law school, but will make an exception for people who come with their own funding. My impression is that schools like HYS tend to have more funding to give.

Also, I think it's good to look very closely at the LRAP. 10 years is a long time, and, even if your salary starts off below $60K or whatever, it's not necessarily going to stay that way. I know plenty of PI people who earn more than that after 5+ years out of law school.

Another thing to look at is the board of directors at the organizations with your dream jobs. Oftentimes professors serve on boards and nothing gets your foot in the door like having a professor/board member call up/email the ED to let them know about this awesome student they are mentoring...

It has been true in my experience that the caliber of the school overall matters, even in PI, but that people judge your school on its own merits (and you on your own merits). Obviously HYS snap up a lot of really awesome, talented, passionate people, but there are definitely plenty of awesome, talented, passionate people at other schools. There are non-T14 schools that we regularly get brilliant legal interns/lawyers from and there are T14 schools that I'm not sure have ever sent us interns/lawyers.


Wow - all of this - just wow. THANK YOU. I'm in a similar position to dcg2120 with decision-making challenges, really really fortunate to be trying to sort out between Columbia, NYU, and Harvard - but with a specific interest in human rights. Definitely struggling to weight out clinics, LLMs, funding, prestige, all those factors - so learning a bit more about funding and fellowship opportunities is definitely super helpful! Vividviolin, thanks so much for sharing!! And dcg2120, I feel ya. Dilemmas aside, it makes me happy to know there are more of us internationally-minded kids out here : )

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby Myself » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:51 pm

I'm actually looking to do international animal sports law. Can someone help me out here?

User has been warned for trolling a useful on-topic thread.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby dcg2120 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:39 pm

worldtraveler wrote:For environmental law, I would definitely recommend Berkeley. The school's program is very strong, although unfortunately our main enviro/int'l prof is leaving at the end of this year. I would suggest deferring law school for a bit though and getting some more real world experience, especially if you're interested in int'l development.

I don't know much about it, but there are some Berkeley students with these interests who do a joint degree with the Energy Resources graduate program. That may be something to consider.

As for weighing prestige, only let strength of a specialty program influence your decision between peer schools. Between Berkeley and Penn for instance, pick the one with the better programs. Between Georgetown and Vermont, still pick Gtown even if Vermont has better enviro stuff.

Thanks for this. A couple questions: by "peer schools" do you mean between T14 schools? Because I have been told the same by people but then told that Harvard isn't a peer to Berkeley and that its overall prestige works out. Second, you talked a little about this earlier but what do you mean when you say to get "real world experience"? I'm a year out and have some good internship/research experience, but finding a paid job relevant to my field with just a BA is nearly impossible--that's why I'm going back to school.

Also, you mentioned that you're graduating this year--any comments/lessons learned on getting international PI jobs?

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby Metanoia » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:35 pm

May be helpful for anyone looking for general info about legal careers in international development:

http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/care ... efinal.pdf

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gatorgirl2012
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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby gatorgirl2012 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:01 pm

Metanoia wrote:May be helpful for anyone looking for general info about legal careers in international development:

http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/care ... efinal.pdf


This is GREAT!! Thank you so much!

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby wwapd » Sat May 11, 2013 5:55 pm

Has anyone here applied or received a boren or flas fellowship/scholarship? I've read a lot about them but its hard to actually meet or read about the process from the applicants point of view. I lived and worked in china and I think continuing my mandarin education would be something I could make use of in a big way. If anyone has been through this personally I'd love to hear about when to apply, how to put together the application, how to make it stand out, and what it's like once you have are in the program.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Sat May 11, 2013 8:36 pm

wwapd wrote:Has anyone here applied or received a boren or flas fellowship/scholarship? I've read a lot about them but its hard to actually meet or read about the process from the applicants point of view. I lived and worked in china and I think continuing my mandarin education would be something I could make use of in a big way. If anyone has been through this personally I'd love to hear about when to apply, how to put together the application, how to make it stand out, and what it's like once you have are in the program.


Yes, both. But these are very different fellowships, and are you talking grad or undergrad? FLAS is essentially just money to study a foreign language for a year and Boren is really just to pay you to study abroad. If you're planning on doing these during law school, most law schools are not FLAS eligible and even if youre at a FLAS school, law students may not be eligible.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:57 am

Bumping this to update it. I'm now working on international human rights projects with an NGO in DC. Will be leaving in a year to work with a human rights center of a law school.

Happy to answer questions related to how to end up here, although much of it has already been answered in the thread.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby whippersnappery » Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:14 am

Tag. This is an incredible thread. Thanks, worldtraveler. I'm a 0L, and set on this field. If I'm interested in more 'prestigious' work (UN, Human Rights Watch, State Department, etc...), which law schools generally have the best placement for that type of work? Seems like the answer would be YHS, then CCN, but within those brackets are there distinctions? Again, great thread!

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:03 pm

whippersnappery wrote:Tag. This is an incredible thread. Thanks, worldtraveler. I'm a 0L, and set on this field. If I'm interested in more 'prestigious' work (UN, Human Rights Watch, State Department, etc...), which law schools generally have the best placement for that type of work? Seems like the answer would be YHS, then CCN, but within those brackets are there distinctions? Again, great thread!



Apparently the State Dept is currently only hiring out of Yale. (I heard this about a year ago; it may have changed).

Honestly it really is Yale>>>>>>>Harvard/Stanford>>>>>NYU/Columbia>>>>>Berkeley/Michigan/Chicago from what I've seen.

If you want Human Rights Watch, NYU and Columbia have 2 fellowships to send their grads straight there. The UN probably won't happen until you have a few years of experience, unless you have citizenship of a country that does not have many professionals.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby girlmonster » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:35 pm

worldtraveler wrote:After my 1L internship i interned with an NGO in another country doing refugee rights advocacy. I did a lot of research, lot of writing, and dealt with a lot of corruption.


Sorry if I missed it, but if this was after your 1L internship, then what was your 1L internship? Also, I've read a lot about the significance of volunteering during your 1L year. Should I pursue just general volunteer opportunities, or is there targeted volunteer work I should do? (For example, can I just sign on as a general public volunteer at a nonprofit, or are there opportunities which are more law student-oriented?)

Sorry if I sound ignorant or confusing. This is a field I've been pursuing for a while, but I have just realized how little of the strategy I actually know. Thanks for the thread!

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:41 pm

girlmonster wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:After my 1L internship i interned with an NGO in another country doing refugee rights advocacy. I did a lot of research, lot of writing, and dealt with a lot of corruption.


Sorry if I missed it, but if this was after your 1L internship, then what was your 1L internship? Also, I've read a lot about the significance of volunteering during your 1L year. Should I pursue just general volunteer opportunities, or is there targeted volunteer work I should do? (For example, can I just sign on as a general public volunteer at a nonprofit, or are there opportunities which are more law student-oriented?)

Sorry if I sound ignorant or confusing. This is a field I've been pursuing for a while, but I have just realized how little of the strategy I actually know. Thanks for the thread!


I worked with a refugee rights policy NGO in East Africa after my 1L year.

Your school might have opportunities for 1Ls to do immigration/asylum work or to research with professors. Not all schools let 1Ls do this though. Most legal positions with non-profits aren't open to you until after you finish your 1L year. You can also talk to professors about becoming an RA, but those opportunities are also often limited to 2Ls and 3Ls.

Almost all the schools with big PI commitments have multiple opportunities for 1Ls. If you are going to Chicago or Columbia or somewhere with less of a focus then I'm not so sure.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:45 pm

girlmonster wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:After my 1L internship i interned with an NGO in another country doing refugee rights advocacy. I did a lot of research, lot of writing, and dealt with a lot of corruption.


Sorry if I missed it, but if this was after your 1L internship, then what was your 1L internship? Also, I've read a lot about the significance of volunteering during your 1L year. Should I pursue just general volunteer opportunities, or is there targeted volunteer work I should do? (For example, can I just sign on as a general public volunteer at a nonprofit, or are there opportunities which are more law student-oriented?)

Sorry if I sound ignorant or confusing. This is a field I've been pursuing for a while, but I have just realized how little of the strategy I actually know. Thanks for the thread!


http://web.law.columbia.edu/sites/defau ... FINAL_.pdf

Looks like CLS has tons of student led pro bono projects that can flexibly accommodate 1Ls. Like I said in the PI thread, certainly don't go overboard your first year, but a bit of volunteering on the side will NOT hurt your grades. Plenty of LR kiddos at my school did pro bono work even during the 1L grind, and it's a great way to stay connected to the causes and clients that brought you to law school in the first place. There are also group spring break trips. Or like me, you can arrange your own. I want to be in Philly in the long run, so I arranged to work for an immigration org there during winter and spring breaks.

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby girlmonster » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:49 pm

Thank you, worldtraveler and BlueLotus! Imma calm down on the super-specific and repetitive questions.

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girlmonster
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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby girlmonster » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:33 pm

Worldtraveler, I read where you mentioned that you received a dual degree. My ultimate career goal is to work for an NGO, ideally in research/advocacy. Do you think a dual degree would confer an advantage? If so, what dual degree program do you think I should pursue (e.g., JD with a MIA, MPA, MA in Middle Eastern Studies, etc.)?

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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:48 pm

girlmonster wrote:Worldtraveler, I read where you mentioned that you received a dual degree. My ultimate career goal is to work for an NGO, ideally in research/advocacy. Do you think a dual degree would confer an advantage? If so, what dual degree program do you think I should pursue (e.g., JD with a MIA, MPA, MA in Middle Eastern Studies, etc.)?


It depends what you want to do, but it isn't absolutely necessary. It's certainly helpful and I'm glad I did it but man it was a pain.

The main benefits of a dual degree are:
one more summer of experience and to make connections
access to fellowships for grad students (might be cheaper)
better connections to profs involved in related issues like development/politics
better LOR writers because grad students know faculty better
courses on related issues (econ, theory courses)
opportunity for language study
doing a thesis that might get published/give you research experience
more likely to get teaching experience, which might prove beneficial
you can mess with 1Ls and tell them you failed your first semester so had to repeat it, hence the 4th year.
eligibility for certain jobs that want MAs and not JDs

Downsides:
less flexibility. you can't study abroad or intern a semester. might not get to take every course you want
you will be BUSY fitting a 5 year program into 4 years. may prevent you from interning and doing everything you want to do. you also might go crazy.
might cost more
it's a year of your life when you could be starting your career
you will see people in the law school and they will say WTF are you still doing here.
you will barely remember your 1L curriculum when you take the bar
Look at all the posts about 3LOL and having no work. that will not be you. You will not have 5 day weekends or blow off class for months.
grad students are really fucking pedantic and annoying, especially in the humanities/soc sci.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:10 pm

were the grad classes graded on a forced curve?

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worldtraveler
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Re: Thread for people wanting to do international human rights

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:13 pm

BlueLotus wrote:were the grad classes graded on a forced curve?


No but they say a real letter grade and the rest of mine say a HH, H, or P so it's not like I could pass them off as law grades.

It does make it impossible to rank me though even for clerkships. That might not be a good thing.




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