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Clinical Education at UT Law

Real Cases. Real Experience.

Human Rights Clinic

Additional Course Information

Course Description

Taught by Ariel Dulitzky

6 credits (pass/fail) — offered Fall, Spring

The Clinic is open to students who have completed their first two semesters.

p>Students must register for Law 397C and 397D, for a total of six credits.


The Clinic draws from the successful experience of the Advanced Human Rights Advocacy Course taught in the spring of 2008. In that course, students helped to prepare an amicus brief submitted to the Peruvian Court trying former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for human rights abuses; analyzed and documented human rights violations taking place as a result of plans to construct a wall along the Texas/Mexico border; documented the situation of rural workers in Guatemala; supported the request of the Ecuadorean Truth Commission for the declassification of documents related to human rights abuses in that country; drafted a legal analysis supporting the reopening by a prosecutor of a criminal investigation into a 1980s forced disappearance in Honduras; prepared a study for a Colombian think tank regarding the functioning of public institutions dealing with discrimination in Latin America; and prepared a claim for protection of traditional lands to be brought by an Afro-Brazilian quilombo community before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The Clinic deploys an innovative approach. While all the projects and cases entail working in partnership with international institutions national agencies and/or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) some of those projects will be part of long-term relationships with partner organizations and community activists to advocate for the advancement of the specific rights. As part of this long term involvement, students will be offered the opportunity of continuing with their work their projects, through summer internships with our partner organizations.

All the cases and projects involve research, writing, and an opportunity to discuss the strategies used by our organizational and individual partners. The cases and projects provide the students an opportunity to gain practical skills in partnering with other students, institutions, and organizations, thus forming a team of advocates. Finally, all the projects and cases allow a multidisciplinary approach and permit working across disciplines and use the perspectives of different fields to enhance the overall theoretical framework.

The clinic meets two times per week for an hour and a half. Classroom lectures and discussion focus on substantive human rights law, client interviewing, case and project preparation and strategy and review of ongoing cases and projects. In addition to the classroom component, students should expect to spend 10–20 hours per week on Clinic work. The weekly workload varies substantially, depending upon the stage of each project or case. Clinic work may include some travel.

Many of the Clinic’s projects and cases are from Latin America. Fluency in Spanish is preferred but not required. Volunteer interpreters are available for non-Spanish speaking students. Preference is given to students who have taken a human rights course or who have other human rights or public interest experience.