The American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights is the ABA’s focal entity for critical human rights concerns in the United States and around the world. The ABA Center for Human Rights (the Center) works to promote and protect human rights worldwide by mobilizing lawyers to help threatened advocates and vulnerable communities; rallying leading experts on vital issues; and holding abusive governments accountable under law.

The Center is seeking experienced legal interns or externs to work closely with our legal advisors, human rights groups, and pro bono attorneys to provide legal assistance to human rights defenders who are the subject of harassment in retaliation for their advocacy efforts. The intern/extern will gain invaluable insight into international human rights law and advocacy.

Depending on the needs of the Center at the time and the interest and experience of the intern/extern, the student may be assigned to any of the following projects and teams. Please indicate your regional and/or project preference in your cover letter.

  • Justice Defenders Program: Mobilizing the global legal community to support human rights defenders around the world who face retaliation for their work. Intern/extern would be assigned to one of five regional teams (Eastern Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa) or to our labor rights portfolio.
  • Center Initiatives: Atrocity Crimes Initiative, Proxy Warfare Project, and Business & Human Rights Initiative. Intern/extern would support the Center’s Director and/or Associate Director on one or multiple of these Center-wide projects in partnership with Center Board members.

This may be a fully remote, virtual internship or a hybrid/in-person opportunity, depending upon ABA policy at the start of the internship regarding in-person work, the intern’s location, and the intern’s comfort level with in-person work. This is an unpaid opportunity. The Center can support externship requirements for applicants seeking school credit.

The intern/extern is expected to begin in late August 2022 or early September 2022 for a 12-to-16-week internship period. Intern/extern is expected to commit 10 to 20 hours per week to this part-time opportunity. The application deadline is July 15, 2022.

Interns/Externs should expect to do several of the following tasks:

  • Conduct legal research and draft memos, petitions, and reports
  • Conduct supplemental fact-finding and assist during interviews
  • Attend press conferences, briefings, meetings with partner organizations, and/or other webinars
  • Draft editorials and blogs on key human rights issues
  • Monitor ongoing human rights abuses internationally via human rights listservs and other news sources

Basic Qualifications:

  • Currently enrolled in a JD or LLM program at an U.S.-based institution or a recent (less than one year) graduate of a JD or LLM at an U.S.-based institution.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in a second language is preferred. Knowledge of Arabic, French, Spanish, or Russian is a plus.
  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest and knowledge of international law.
  • Prior experience working on issues of human rights and/or human rights defenders in one or more of our five region and/or thematic programs.

How to Apply:

  • Applications must include the following:
    • Cover letter – Please indicate your preference for regional and/or project assignment and any language proficiencies. If seeking credit hours for the opportunity, please briefly outline your school’s externship requirements.
    • Resume
    • Legal writing sample
  • Please submit all application materials in a single pdf to and title the email, “Last Name: Fall 2022 Intern/Extern Application”. Please copy April Artrip at
  • Deadline to submit application: July 15, 2022.
  • Intern/extern is expected to begin in late August or early September 2022.

Link to position.