Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic

Students in the Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic are introduced to the professional practice of law in the cross-cultural context of international human rights advocacy. They bridge theory and practice by working on live case projects that address a range of contemporary issues in the human rights field. Many clinic students engage in research and advocacy on leading international human rights issues. Other student-attorneys partner with experienced lawyers engaged in human rights-based litigation or advocacy to provide pro bono legal services to victims of such abuses in the United States and abroad. In a few cases, students may represent clients directly in litigation or related advocacy matters.​

The Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic students are immersed in the practice of international human rights law and advocacy. They are responsible for carrying out a wide range of professional activities under close faculty supervision. Most student-attorneys engage in research and advocacy projects designed to promote human rights through innovative engagement with cutting-edge issues in international law. One area of primary focus is the intersection of information and communication technology (ICT) and international human rights law. On the one hand, students explore the human rights implications of the operations of Internet companies like Facebook, Google, and Mozilla. On the other, they participate in a new clinical project addressing violence against women online, which involves devising legal and non-legal strategies to counter cyber-stalking and harassment. Another area of intense research revolves around the UN International Law Commission’s drafting of a new crimes against humanity (CAH) convention. Through guided legal research and writing, students actively support the work of Professor Sean Murphy, ILC Rapporteur for CAH, who is spearheading this initiative. Finally, students in the Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic participate in a semester-long client simulation designed to develop client interviewing and counseling skills.

Contact Us

The George Washington University Law School
Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics
Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic
2000 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20052


Arturo J. Carrillo

Information for Students

Why should I take this Clinic?

The Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic teaches students professional skills as they contribute to the advancement of civil and human rights in the United States and abroad. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the practice of law in the context of international and domestic human and civil rights advocacy. It focuses on developing basic lawyering skills like client interviewing and counseling that are transferable to practice in any field of law. At the same time, students get the opportunity to further hone their legal research and writing capabilities. They learn to be highly competent, reflective legal practitioners through their work in the classroom and on simulations, as well as through their role in live cases and projects. Students collaborate with experienced civil and human rights activists engaged in ongoing litigation, advocacy, or research.

What does the IHR Clinic Docket look like?

Our Docket is composed of live cases and projects involving research, advocacy and/or litigation to advance human rights. We often partner with domestic and international non-governmental organizations to address vanguard issues arising under international law. One such partner is Article 19, a U.K.-based NGO dedicated to promoting freedom of expression online, to whom Clinic students provide research and advocacy support at the intersection of technology and human rights. Another project involves partnering with Global Action on Gun Violence, an NGO created to use international law and relations to combat gun trafficking and violence in and outside the United States. Our domestic focus is largely on promoting civil rights in the District of Columbia in partnership with local counsel. In this respect, current and future clinic activities include fact-finding and reporting on human rights abuses in the District, as well legal representation of pro se litigants before the D.C. Office and Commission of Human Rights, and in Superior Court. Never a dull moment!

How do I apply and how can I improve my chances of being accepted?

If Clinic sounds like your thing and you meet the admission criteria described herein (i.e. you are a 2L or 3L who has taken International Law and are not signed up for more than 14 credits next semester or outside placement or work), just fill out and submit the Uniform Clinic Application on the Law School's student portal website (it’s under “Clinics”). If this Clinic is your preference, make sure to rank it first (otherwise the chances of being admitted decrease significantly). Make sure you take the time to answer the essay questions carefully to help us learn more about you. Of course, preference must be given to 3Ls but qualified 2Ls are encouraged to apply for the spring semester. If space permits, we will admit qualified LL.M. students as well. Feel free to contact me at any time should you have any questions. I can be reached at [email protected]

Seminar and Faculty Supervision

All Clinic students are required to attend a weekly two-hour seminar. This seminar will focus on substantive law topics related to the practice of intellectual property and technology law, as well as lawyering skills. Clinic faculty provide intensive instruction in legal ethics; copyright, patent, and trademark law and practice; licensing; and business law fundamentals. During the seminar, students participate in exercises designed to develop and refine essential lawyering skills, such as client counseling and interviewing, legal document drafting, client communication, and legal problem solving. Students will meet with their supervisors on a weekly basis outside of the seminar to review and discuss case strategy and client counseling. Supervisors review and provide feedback on all documents and on all client counseling sessions. Supervisors may accompany students to various client meetings. Finally, students will submit reflective papers at least four times during the semester to help them engage in critical reflection.

Time Commitment

You can only sign up for 6 credits, so make sure you leave room in your schedule! You will not want to overcommit with other classes and activities during the semester you take the Clinic. (See next question.) As a rule, you will be required to work an average of 20 hours a week, at a minimum. Keep in mind that, as in private practice, you may be required to keep track of your hours. Your time for the Clinic will be divided among a range of activities centered on the weekly seminar classes, the out-of-class simulations that take place twice a semester, and the Docket work, which is more or less constant. Aside from the seminar classes, there is usually some flexibility in the scheduling of the simulations and Docket-related meetings.

Clinic is a big commitment of your time and energy, so you will want to make sure you leave plenty of space in your schedule to accommodate it. Experience has shown that students tend to overcommit and that their Clinic work can often suffer as a result. You don’t want that! Accordingly, we strongly recommend (1) that you not take more than 13-14 credits total while participating in this course, and (2) that you not hold any outside work position at the same time, including for-credit outside placements. If you are interested in the Clinic but plan to take 14 or more credits or assume work at the same, you will need to contact Prof. Carrillo ASAP to get his permission to apply.

Arturo Carrillo

About Professor Arturo J. Carrillo

Professor Arturo J. Carrillo, Clinical Professor of Law and founding Director of the International Human Rights Clinic, now the Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic. Before joining GW Law School in 2003, Professor Carrillo served as the acting director of the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, where he was also a Lecturer-in-Law and the Henkin Senior Fellow with Columbia’s Human Rights Institute. Prior to entering the academy, Professor Carrillo worked as a legal advisor on human rights for the United Nations, as well as for nongovernmental organizations in his native Colombia. Professor Carrillo's research and advocacy focus on the intersection of information and communications technologies (ICTs) and international law, especially human rights, with an emphasis on the promotion of Internet freedom principles worldwide. His current academic work centers on the protection of digital rights in the context of armed conflict.