Applications Open for Human Rights Institute 1L Advocates Program


The Human Rights Institute 1L Advocates Program (1LAP) is now accepting applications for the incoming 2023-2024 year.

1LAP, unique to Columbia Law School, supports students interested in human rights with special programming in their first year of law school. The program includes curated seminars on human rights, mentorship, visits to human rights organizations in NYC, and a community of students and human rights advocates. The program sets students up for long-term involvement or careers in human rights.

Applications are now open and due by July 17, 2023. Apply Here

About the Program

1LAP, founded in 2017, is offered by the Human Rights Institute (HRI) and the student-led group Rightslink.

Students selected to be fellows in the program will receive:

· Human rights mentoring and community: Advocates receive individualized and group mentorship from practicing human rights advocates, and Columbia Law faculty, staff, graduates, and current students.

· Specialized human rights seminars: Advocates attend monthly seminars that overview key issues in human rights, given by leading human rights advocates.

· Human rights work and experience: Advocates have the opportunity to work on a range of advocacy work undertaken by HRI and the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic, as well as NGOs around the world. All Advocates are required to undertake public interest work as part of the 1LAP program.

· Visits to human rights organizations in New York: Advocates have the opportunity to visit NGOs in New York City, meet with staff, and learn about human rights careers.

More than one hundred students have completed the program and gone on to do summer internships around the world at public interest and human rights organizations, the United Nations, and local and national government. Many have also participated in the Human Rights Clinic or conducted research and advocacy for one of HRI’s projects. Following law school graduation, 1LAP alumni have been awarded prestigious fellowships and many are doing human rights work for NGOs, international institutions, government, or courts.

How to Apply

Participation is by competitive application in the summer before 1L begins. The application is open to incoming 1L students and is due by July 17, 2023 for the 2023-2024 school year. Applicants will be notified of admissions by August 10. For more information and to apply, click here .


Who is eligible to apply?

All incoming first-year J.D. students with an interest in and commitment to human rights are encouraged to apply. Prior experience in human rights is not a prerequisite for admission. For late applications, please reach out to HRI directly at [email protected].

Can I apply to this Program and other Columbia programs?

Yes, you can apply to, and participate in, both the 1L Advocates Program and other initiatives, including the The Max Berger ’71 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program. Applications are reviewed separately and admission into one program does not impact another.

What type of programming is offered as part of 1LAP?

In addition to fall orientation, social events during the year, and a celebratory dinner in April, 1L Advocates will participate in roughly six seminars tailored to cover timely topics in the human rights field. Recent seminars, taught by leading human rights advocates, have covered issues such as human rights law, human rights strategies and tactics, critiques of human rights, career pathways, and building well-being and resilience.

What kind of human rights work can I take on during the 1L year?

1L Fellows are expected to dedicate a portion of their time during 1L to a human rights or social justice-related activity. This commitment can take myriad forms, such as being a part of a social justice-oriented student initiative, volunteering with an NGO, conducting human rights work through HRI and the Clinic, or doing a caravan. The 1L curriculum is a demanding experience, and the 1L Advocates program was designed with this reality in mind.


If you have any questions about the 1L Advocates Program, please write to us at [email protected]