Human Rights Clinic Launches New Mentorship Program

Students in the Clinic Will Be Paired with Advocates from Leading Human Rights Organizations

New York, November 12, 2014—Students working in Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic have been paired with experienced advocates from leading human rights organizations as part of an exciting new mentoring initiative.

“The Mentorship Program is designed to develop a new generation of human rights advocates while increasing practitioner links to new allies and fostering a supportive environment for human rights work,” said Sarah Knuckey, the Lieff Cabraser Clinical Associate Professor of Human Rights, faculty co-director of the Human Rights Institute, and director of the Human Rights Clinic.   
The just-launched Human Rights Clinic Mentorship Program connects students with mentors drawn from the global community of human rights practitioners. Selected to ensure diversity of experiences, the mentors work as advocates at organizations defending everything from the environment to freedom of expression, and from the rights of civilians in armed conflict to indigenous communities harmed by extractives projects. Students have been paired with mentors based on their interests and career goals, and the mentorship will promote the students’ development as strategic, principled, and reflective advocates for social justice.
“Students benefit tremendously from working on the clinic’s many human rights investigations and advocacy projects, and the Mentorship Program will further expose students to the work of leading advocates in the human rights field,” Knuckey said. “Meanwhile, our mentors have embraced the program as an opportunity to share their skills and insights, and to shape the development of new generations of advocates.”
Mentors participating in the program this year come from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Pen American Center, American Civil Liberties Union, Open Society Foundations, Human Rights Watch, Center for Economic and Social Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and EarthRights International. Three Columbia Law School alumni are serving as mentors: Christopher Albin-Lackey ’04 of Human Rights Watch, Allison Corkery ’10 LL.M. of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, and Naureen Shah ’07 of the ACLU.
“The clinic's mentorship program is an exciting addition to other Columbia Law School programs—such as the Human Rights Internship Program and Social Justice Initiative’s Social Justice Network Online—that connect students to practitioners, build the international human rights legal community, and strengthen the ties of talented advocates to the Law School,” said Dean for Social Justice Initiatives Ellen P. Chapnick
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Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic is an innovative space for bringing together human rights work, student education, critical reflection, and scholarly research.  The Clinic’s methodology is collaborative, rigorous, and self-reflexive; through seminars and project work, students learn to be strategic and creative human rights advocates, while pursuing social justice in partnership with civil society and communities, and while advancing human rights methodologies and scholarship.