I Want to Work in ...... Human Rights



Human Rights is a very varied employment sector with no clearly defined career paths, entry points, routes and structure.

Opportunities may arise in central and local government bodies; international governmental and non-governmental organisations; charities, pressure groups and campaigning organisations; academia and law.

There is a huge variety of roles, including research, marketing, public relations, fundraising, finance, investigation, administration, lobbying and education.

Whatever role you are interested in, and whatever your qualifications, getting into Human Rights work is highly competitive. You will need to have relevant experience, which is generally gained on a voluntary basis, through internships or other involvement with a human rights organisation.

Further general background:



Other sites with listings of internships and voluntary opportunities:


Work in law firms and other organisations specialising in Human Rights law:

The Human Rights Act has resulted in some very high profile and specialist cases. However many firms have long worked in the field of civil liberties which covers a very broad range of work, such as discrimination, actions against the police, mental health etc and can overlap with other areas, such as immigration, employment etc.

Human Rights is a niche field and highly competitive to get into. Students will need to show a commitment to this area by involvement with related organisations, usually through voluntary work with organisations who work in this area. A postgraduate degree in Human Rights law may also be helpful (see below).

As the Law Society requires trainee solicitors to gain experience in at least three areas of law, you cannot specialise in Human Rights from the beginning of your legal career. When applying for training contracts it helps to be as flexible as possible.

Few firms specialising in Human Rights law will recruit trainees more than a year in advance, and most will recruit people once they have completed their LPC. This may involve starting employment as a paralegal before progressing to a training contract.

Some well-known firms in this area which recruit trainee solicitors – see firms' websites for full details: 

For details of other firms practising human rights law, see:

Some well-known barristers' chambers in this area which offer pupillages – see websites for full details: 

Presentations on working at the Human Rights Bar given at National Pupillage Fairs:

You can find other firms and chambers practising in this field by searching the following sites:

Other law-related organisations:

Postgraduate Study in Human Rights

There are a number of Human Rights courses available in the UK and internationally, and new courses begin every year. Some of these are LLM (Masters in Law) degrees which focus on the legal aspects of human rights, but which are not always restricted to Law graduates. Others are open to graduates from a wide range of disciplines.


Other pages of interest on this site


Last fully updated 2016