Law school hopefuls who intend to become attorneys who represent victims of human rights violations should understand that pursuing this type of legal career is difficult, law professors say.

Since many people compete for human rights law jobs, these positions are hard for law school grads to get straight out of law school, professors say. Moreover, human rights law careers tend to be much less lucrative than corporate law careers , so it’s important for anyone evaluating whether to enter the human rights law profession to understand that it generally doesn’t lead to an impressive salary. Professors add that work in this legal field is often both emotionally taxing and nerve-wracking, since it involves assisting traumatized individuals who need help escaping desperate circumstances.

Human rights lawyer Kirsten Bowman says securing a job within this highly competitive and prestigious field of law requires persistence. "You have to keep trying, keep asking for informational interviews, keep taking every single branch offered and working hard," she wrote in an email. "Those that refuse to give up are those that usually succeed. But, just because you want to do something nice for the world does not mean that a job will fall into your lap. It’s hard work to get it, and lots of these jobs don’t pay particularly well."

Anyone interested in working for international human rights organizations should keep in mind that, if those organizations frequently hire grads of non-U.S. law schools with low tuition costs, the salaries at those organizations may not be substantial, Bowman adds.

Despite the challenges involved in a career as a human rights attorney, experts say it can be deeply fulfilling to practice this type of law. One of the key benefits of a human rights law job is "the opportunity or even the privilege of knowing that what you do helps to rectify systemic injustice, redress unfairness and promote change for a better future for everyone," wrote Shelley Inglis, the executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton in Ohio, in an email.

Human rights law typically focuses on protecting individual rights from the encroachment of […]

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