How Long Does It Take To Become a Human Rights Lawyer

Title: How Long Does It Take To Become a Human Rights Lawyer?


Becoming a human rights lawyer is a noble and rewarding career choice. These legal professionals play a crucial role in advocating for justice, equality, and the protection of individuals’ fundamental rights worldwide. However, the path to becoming a human rights lawyer involves years of hard work, dedication, and a deep understanding of the legal system. In this article, we will explore the journey to becoming a human rights lawyer, the educational requirements, and provide answers to frequently asked questions regarding this profession.

The Journey to Becoming a Human Rights Lawyer:

1. Undergraduate Education:
To embark on the path of becoming a human rights lawyer, one must first complete a bachelor’s degree. While there is no specific undergraduate major required for this career, pursuing a degree in political science, international relations, or law-related fields can provide a solid foundation.

2. Law School:
After completing an undergraduate degree, aspiring human rights lawyers must attend law school. Law school typically takes three years to complete, during which students learn about various legal principles, procedures, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the legal system.

3. Internships and Externships:
To gain practical experience and refine their skills, aspiring human rights lawyers often participate in internships or externships. These opportunities allow them to work closely with experienced lawyers, NGOs, or international organizations focused on human rights issues.

4. Specialization in Human Rights Law:
While not mandatory, specializing in human rights law during law school can provide a distinct advantage. Many law schools offer specialized programs or courses in human rights law that focus on international human rights treaties, refugee law, constitutional rights, and the legal mechanisms for enforcing human rights.

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5. Bar Exam:
After completing law school, aspiring lawyers must pass the bar exam in their respective jurisdiction. The bar exam assesses the knowledge and understanding of the law necessary to practice as an attorney. The content and structure of the exam may vary depending on the country or state.

6. Practical Experience:
Becoming a successful human rights lawyer often requires gaining practical experience in the field. This can involve working at law firms, non-profit organizations, or government agencies that deal with human rights issues. Building a robust network and pursuing pro bono work can also contribute to expanding one’s opportunities in the field.

7 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1. How long does it take to become a human rights lawyer?
The journey to become a human rights lawyer typically takes a minimum of seven years. This includes four years of undergraduate education, three years of law school, and additional time to gain practical experience.

Q2. Are there any specific educational requirements for becoming a human rights lawyer?
To become a human rights lawyer, one must complete a bachelor’s degree and attend law school. However, there is no specific major required for undergraduate studies.

Q3. Is specializing in human rights law necessary to pursue this career?
While specializing is not mandatory, it can significantly enhance your knowledge and prospects in the field. Specialized courses or programs during law school can provide a deeper understanding of human rights law.

Q4. Can I practice human rights law in any country?
Human rights law is a universal concept, but the specific laws and regulations may vary between countries. It is essential to familiarize oneself with the legal framework of the desired jurisdiction to effectively practice human rights law.

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Q5. What skills are essential for a human rights lawyer?
Apart from legal expertise, effective communication, research, analytical thinking, empathy, and a passion for social justice are crucial skills for a human rights lawyer.

Q6. Can I work internationally as a human rights lawyer?
Yes, many human rights lawyers work on an international level, collaborating with organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International, or Human Rights Watch. Fluency in multiple languages and a strong understanding of international law are advantageous for working internationally.

Q7. Are there opportunities for pro bono work in human rights law?
Pro bono work is a significant aspect of human rights law. Many law firms, NGOs, and legal aid organizations offer opportunities to work on pro bono cases, providing legal assistance to individuals or communities in need.


Becoming a human rights lawyer requires a significant commitment of time, education, and practical experience. This career path demands a deep understanding of the legal system, specialized knowledge in human rights law, and a passion for advocating justice. While the journey may be long, the opportunity to make a positive impact on society and protect the rights of individuals is immeasurable.