NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

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Kuchulu
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Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 1:44 am

NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby Kuchulu » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:38 pm

Hi there,

I am pretty much only interested in practicing the following

1) International Human Rights bases issues
2) Non-profit (I currently do fundraising and grant writing for Doctors Without Borders)
3) Immigration law
4) Constitutional law (I want to practice for a 10-15 years and eventually teach constitutional/policy law)


Sooo with that said, any of you have advice about good things and pitfalls when it comes to practicing in these fields? what schools are the best? how competitive are the career opportunities? what are some things I need to prepare for? just give me info info info and more info plz.

thanks thanks thanks!

starsong
Posts: 421
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:35 pm

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby starsong » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:14 pm

Kuchulu wrote:Sooo with that said, any of you have advice about good things and pitfalls when it comes to practicing in these fields?


Per your list:

(1) Very very very few jobs.
(2) Few jobs, pay next-to-nothing.
(3) Most immigrants are broke.
(4) Market flooded/everyone wants to do it/few want to pay for it = no jobs.

Kuchulu wrote:what schools are the best?


(2)-(4) can be done anywhere, so minimize debt.

Most jobs in (1) require top credentials, so top performance at top school.

Kuchulu wrote:how competitive are the career opportunities? what are some things I need to prepare for? just give me info info info and more info plz.

thanks thanks thanks!


See above. These are markets characterized by extremely high supply and very low demand, so get ready for little $$$. If you're going to do it, do it for the ideology alone.

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Borhas
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Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby Borhas » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:21 pm

Kuchulu wrote:Hi there,

I am pretty much only interested in practicing the following

1) International Human Rights bases issues
2) Non-profit (I currently do fundraising and grant writing for Doctors Without Borders)
3) Immigration law
4) Constitutional law (I want to practice for a 10-15 years and eventually teach constitutional/policy law)


Sooo with that said, any of you have advice about good things and pitfalls when it comes to practicing in these fields? what schools are the best? how competitive are the career opportunities? what are some things I need to prepare for? just give me info info info and more info plz.

thanks thanks thanks!


Iranian?

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nealric
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Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby nealric » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:29 pm

With your goals, I just continue what I was doing and not go to law school.

1.) Very, very few jobs as said before. You can probably do just is much (if not more) good without being a lawyer in this field.
2.) You can do this after law school, but it sounds like you already do this. The stuff you do as a lawyer really won't be much more sexy.
3.) With the exception of a small number of cases, immigration law mostly involves churning through paperwork en masse. The exceptions either aren't very public interest oriented or are generally handled as pro-bono cases on the side by for-profit type lawyers.
4.) Requires rockstar credentials- even then no guarantees.

ViP
Posts: 419
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:53 pm

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby ViP » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:33 pm

Borhas wrote:
Kuchulu wrote:Hi there,

I am pretty much only interested in practicing the following

1) International Human Rights bases issues
2) Non-profit (I currently do fundraising and grant writing for Doctors Without Borders)
3) Immigration law
4) Constitutional law (I want to practice for a 10-15 years and eventually teach constitutional/policy law)


Sooo with that said, any of you have advice about good things and pitfalls when it comes to practicing in these fields? what schools are the best? how competitive are the career opportunities? what are some things I need to prepare for? just give me info info info and more info plz.

thanks thanks thanks!


Iranian?


Haha, maloomeh.

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Borhas
Posts: 4852
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby Borhas » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:43 pm

Kuchulu wrote:Hi there,

I am pretty much only interested in practicing the following

1) International Human Rights bases issues
2) Non-profit (I currently do fundraising and grant writing for Doctors Without Borders)
3) Immigration law
4) Constitutional law (I want to practice for a 10-15 years and eventually teach constitutional/policy law)


Sooo with that said, any of you have advice about good things and pitfalls when it comes to practicing in these fields? what schools are the best? how competitive are the career opportunities? what are some things I need to prepare for? just give me info info info and more info plz.

thanks thanks thanks!


Immigration law:
????

non-profit:
????

For Intl Humanitarian relief:

I have no first hand knowledge, but conventional wisdom (aka the echo chamber on this board) claims that the sort of legal career you want to get into is extremely competitive. One would need the following:
1. a very fancy law degree, preferably from a prestigious east coast school like Harvard, Yale, or Columbia
2. networking skills and connections


Teaching:
if you are interested in teaching any sort of law here is some good information from someone claiming to be a law professor who posted on this site earlier. It talks about all the hoops that one would have to jump through to get into legal academia

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=111060&start=25

Let me try to take on the "how to become a professor" questions in one shot. First, I was lucky enough to get one of these jobs (and that's literally true, not false humility), so it's easy for someone like me to assume there's only one way (mine) to get in. There's not. I've chaired the hiring committee at my school for the last four years, just so you know I have a little background here.

I suspect (I could be wrong) that most profs who teach at HYS come from HYS. There's a ton of local favoritism going on at those places, especially Harvard, which loves to hire its own. So yeah, go to Harvard, impress the bejesus out of the faculty, get hired at Harvard, you're all set. But for the rest of the law schools, we hire with a little more latitude. But just a little. The incoming credentials of law profs at even third or fourth tier law schools are incredible. Again, legal education is good all over, and we are now entering the third decade of an extremely competitive market for law professors. Almost no one gets to be a law prof anywhere nowadays who doesn't fit the bill. Or if they don't, they're drummed out pretty quickly.

How much latitude? We love graduates from the more "serious" or "lawyerly" top ten law schools: Chicago, Northwestern, Virginia, Michigan, Stanford, Harvard. We look also at grads of course from the other top schools. Obviously we hire from Yale too, and I'm not disrespecting anyone left out; I'm just giving you my impressions from years on the committee. The sweet spot (certainly during the law and economics era, which continues) is Chicago, NWU and Virginia. I'm not saying you're hurt by going to Stanford, etc, (that would be stupid of me, so please don't read me as saying that), it's just that a top Chicago grad who wants to write/teach in law and econ style is going to get some serious attention from us.

As for going to a school outside the top ones: some people still make it. Just go get an LLM from Harvard or somewhere and parlay that into a teaching job. It's done pretty often, especially if you focus on a more specialized teaching area (like taxation).

Here's the real inside story of how this process works: we get hundreds and hundreds of applications for even one open spot. We cut the huge pile according to certain "brass rings": rank of law school attended, law review, published note while on law review or served as officer, graduation rank/coif, federal judicial clerkship, big firm practice, wrote article (or good, advanced draft) during practice years. After that cut, we still have a deep pile! PhD's can help (if in econ), but not all that much, at least not here, although we do have a few on the faculty with that credential. SCOTUS clerkship helps a lot, but stay tuned.

After the "less deep" pile is made, credentials don't matter much any further. We interview, and we're looking for two qualities. First, does that person have the personality/intellectual vigor to conduct a classroom full of bright students for an hour? Don't underestimate this criterion, especially at law schools outside the top ten. You'd be amazed how many very capable, incredibly well-credentialed applicants fail this test; they just don't have the personality or whatever it is to do it. (So, my advice here is don't kid yourself. Just because you scored high one morning on the LSAT doesn't mean you can carry an intellectual conversation for a solid hour. And please forgive my tone here, but many applicants are shocked when they don't make it past the first interview stage.) Second, does that person think of or deal with the law in an abstract, philosophical way? Does his/her thought reveal nuance and reflection? Basically we're looking for the promise of interesting scholarship. Again, many fail, even people walking out of SCOTUS clerkships, no kidding.

So, it's not so much where you went to school per se. It's are you (what we view as) professor material. You have to collect your brass rings on the way, of course. But you have to make a fair self-assessment. It's the rare applicant who makes it; it's fools gold to plan your life around it. I did, and made it, but in retrospect I was fortunate to say the least. Every year I turn away people who would probably be better at my job than I am.

Sorry for the speech.

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Borhas
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Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby Borhas » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:35 pm

ViP wrote:
Haha, maloomeh.


thought so

I love finding Iranians here, it may sound weird but there are almost no other Iranians at my school. It's not like California.

Oblomov
Posts: 241
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:16 am

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby Oblomov » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:43 pm

starsong wrote:(1) Very very very few jobs.



This isn't really true. It's just that there are very few jobs that have the glamour that people expect. There are tons of organizations that do work in this field, but the work is mundane and the pay is nearly non-existant. You won't be flying in jets; you'll be lucky if you can take a taxi. And you won't be getting people out of jail, you'll be compiling lists and begging for grants.

starsong
Posts: 421
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:35 pm

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby starsong » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:02 am

Oblomov wrote:
starsong wrote:(1) Very very very few jobs.



This isn't really true. It's just that there are very few jobs that have the glamour that people expect. There are tons of organizations that do work in this field, but the work is mundane and the pay is nearly non-existant. You won't be flying in jets; you'll be lucky if you can take a taxi. And you won't be getting people out of jail, you'll be compiling lists and begging for grants.


I wasn't including volunteer work. I mean real, paying jobs that you can live off of. Show me all those organizations that are hiring, from what I've heard paying work in this field is quite rare.

Oblomov
Posts: 241
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:16 am

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby Oblomov » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:09 pm

starsong wrote:
Oblomov wrote:
starsong wrote:(1) Very very very few jobs.



This isn't really true. It's just that there are very few jobs that have the glamour that people expect. There are tons of organizations that do work in this field, but the work is mundane and the pay is nearly non-existant. You won't be flying in jets; you'll be lucky if you can take a taxi. And you won't be getting people out of jail, you'll be compiling lists and begging for grants.


I wasn't including volunteer work. I mean real, paying jobs that you can live off of. Show me all those organizations that are hiring, from what I've heard paying work in this field is quite rare.


Not really, but paying at the level that you'll want is quite rare. I could put you in touch with dozens of organization is the former Soviet Union that do this sort of thing. You'd have to learn Russian and/or the local language, and intern for free for the next two summers (standard for most PI work); by the end there's a good chance that you'd find an organization that would hire you full time -a decent US JD and native English speaker is a rare commodity. Of course, you won't get an expat pay package, but you will be doing international human rights law. Same, I imagine, goes for Africa, and lots of places in Asia and Latin America. Human rights law internationally? Yes. Glamourous? No. US middle class lifestyle? Nope.

My overall point is that this work is out there but 1) it's more boring and bureaucratic than anything else (like all law), 2) it pays terribly, and 3) you can't just waltz into it. But if you're really committed to it, it's there. I think most people just want to do something that makes their heart feel warm and fuzzy, has a bit of glamour, and pays at least as well as a US teachers salary -and they want it as an entry position. Those jobs are super rare, and don't exist at all as entry level. There are a number of jobs that are international, human rights related and pay okay, but they're not glamorous and you need years of experience before anyone will consider you.

But if you're looking to argue before the ECHR or be legal for Amnesty/ICRC, well that's like saying you want to graduate law school and either be a SCOTUS oralist or GC for Goldman. Few people would go into law school with delusions that they'll do the latter, don't know why the think the former is reasonable.

starsong
Posts: 421
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:35 pm

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby starsong » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:18 pm

Oblomov wrote:
starsong wrote:
Oblomov wrote:
starsong wrote:(1) Very very very few jobs.



This isn't really true. It's just that there are very few jobs that have the glamour that people expect. There are tons of organizations that do work in this field, but the work is mundane and the pay is nearly non-existant. You won't be flying in jets; you'll be lucky if you can take a taxi. And you won't be getting people out of jail, you'll be compiling lists and begging for grants.


I wasn't including volunteer work. I mean real, paying jobs that you can live off of. Show me all those organizations that are hiring, from what I've heard paying work in this field is quite rare.


Not really, but paying at the level that you'll want is quite rare. I could put you in touch with dozens of organization is the former Soviet Union that do this sort of thing. You'd have to learn Russian and/or the local language, and intern for free for the next two summers (standard for most PI work); by the end there's a good chance that you'd find an organization that would hire you full time -a decent US JD and native English speaker is a rare commodity. Of course, you won't get an expat pay package, but you will be doing international human rights law. Same, I imagine, goes for Africa, and lots of places in Asia and Latin America. Human rights law internationally? Yes. Glamourous? No. US middle class lifestyle? Nope.

My overall point is that this work is out there but 1) it's more boring and bureaucratic than anything else (like all law), 2) it pays terribly, and 3) you can't just waltz into it. But if you're really committed to it, it's there. I think most people just want to do something that makes their heart feel warm and fuzzy, has a bit of glamour, and pays at least as well as a US teachers salary -and they want it as an entry position. Those jobs are super rare, and don't exist at all as entry level. There are a number of jobs that are international, human rights related and pay okay, but they're not glamorous and you need years of experience before anyone will consider you.

But if you're looking to argue before the ECHR or be legal for Amnesty/ICRC, well that's like saying you want to graduate law school and either be a SCOTUS oralist or GC for Goldman. Few people would go into law school with delusions that they'll do the latter, don't know why the think the former is reasonable.


+1

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chicoalto0649
Posts: 1172
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:34 pm

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby chicoalto0649 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:18 pm

When people ask me what do I want to "specialize" in while at law school, I usually insert whatever I like at the moment in front of "law".

For instance, my friend's dad asked me a few days ago what I want to specialize in while I was watching an OSU basketball game and I of course replied "sports law". When I was asked at the bar, I replied "beverage and hospitality law". At the vet, "puppy law". You get the gist. While I travel I of course respond "international law".

starsong
Posts: 421
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:35 pm

Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby starsong » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:19 pm

chicoalto0649 wrote:When people ask me what do I want to "specialize" in while at law school, I usually insert whatever I like at the moment in front of "law".

For instance, my friend's dad asked me a few days ago what I want to specialize in while I was watching an OSU basketball game and I of course replied "sports law". When I was asked at the bar, I replied "beverage and hospitality law". At the vet, "puppy law". You get the gist. While I travel I of course respond "international law".


+1 hahaha

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chris0805
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Re: NEED ADVICE about Non-profit/International Human Rights law

Postby chris0805 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:43 pm

Oblomov wrote:
starsong wrote:
Oblomov wrote:
starsong wrote:(1) Very very very few jobs.



This isn't really true. It's just that there are very few jobs that have the glamour that people expect. There are tons of organizations that do work in this field, but the work is mundane and the pay is nearly non-existant. You won't be flying in jets; you'll be lucky if you can take a taxi. And you won't be getting people out of jail, you'll be compiling lists and begging for grants.


I wasn't including volunteer work. I mean real, paying jobs that you can live off of. Show me all those organizations that are hiring, from what I've heard paying work in this field is quite rare.


Not really, but paying at the level that you'll want is quite rare. I could put you in touch with dozens of organization is the former Soviet Union that do this sort of thing. You'd have to learn Russian and/or the local language, and intern for free for the next two summers (standard for most PI work); by the end there's a good chance that you'd find an organization that would hire you full time -a decent US JD and native English speaker is a rare commodity. Of course, you won't get an expat pay package, but you will be doing international human rights law. Same, I imagine, goes for Africa, and lots of places in Asia and Latin America. Human rights law internationally? Yes. Glamourous? No. US middle class lifestyle? Nope.

My overall point is that this work is out there but 1) it's more boring and bureaucratic than anything else (like all law), 2) it pays terribly, and 3) you can't just waltz into it. But if you're really committed to it, it's there. I think most people just want to do something that makes their heart feel warm and fuzzy, has a bit of glamour, and pays at least as well as a US teachers salary -and they want it as an entry position. Those jobs are super rare, and don't exist at all as entry level. There are a number of jobs that are international, human rights related and pay okay, but they're not glamorous and you need years of experience before anyone will consider you.

But if you're looking to argue before the ECHR or be legal for Amnesty/ICRC, well that's like saying you want to graduate law school and either be a SCOTUS oralist or GC for Goldman. Few people would go into law school with delusions that they'll do the latter, don't know why the think the former is reasonable.


I think the most important thing to realize is that you NEED (post-grad) experience to get paid by any of the glamorous to semi-glamorous organizations in the U.S. that do international human rights work. Because of this, you want to be at a school like HY or NYU/CLS, the latter two of which have two year fellowships for a graduate to work at HRW (and others as well). This is, in most cases, the only way to break into the field and get a reasonable salary (i.e. over 40K). It is possible, and I know many people doing exciting human rights work, but (1) it's still a job (read: 98 % is research/work in an office) and (2) it's an insanely competitive job.




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