We’re lucky that today, women in America enjoy a many more freedoms and rights than in the past. We’ve had progress in employment equality, healthcare, and education. This is thanks to years of activism and cultural change. But there is a lot of progress left to go! Harassment, violence, discrimination, and treatment in the legal system are just some of the issues that women still struggle against. For all of you future law students interested in continuing the fight for progress, take a look at this guide to some of the best law schools for women’s rights.
What Are Women’s Rights?
The phrase “women’s rights” might seem vague at first. It involves many issues. Harvard Law has published a great guide for law students aiming to practice law in women’s rights. “Women’s rights are most often associated with reproductive rights, sexual and domestic violence, and employment discrimination. The practice area may also include immigration and refugee matters, child custody, criminal justice, health care, housing, labor trafficking, and many others as they intersect with women’s lives. Often, feminist leaders today focus on areas of intersection between women’s rights and other issue areas. Lawyers in women’s rights work on impact litigation, direct service, or policy work in non-profits and federal, state, and local government.”
Law Schools for Women’s Rights
Since women’s rights includes so many potential areas of law, a focus on this track might be interdisciplinary. If you are planning to practice law to advance women’s rights, you don’t have to take courses titled “Women’s Rights.” At different schools, women’s rights are discussed under different areas, like:
- Family Law
- Criminal Justice
- Health Care
- Employment Law
So, it is important to keep this in mind when looking at law schools for women’s rights. You will want to look for a law school with a great overall reputation and opportunities that fit your path. For example, if you want to focus on women’s rights in child custody cases, look at schools with strong family law courses and clinics.
Georgetown Law School has the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program. The program offers two types of fellowships. The WLPPFP Fellowship is a 12-month program where fellows work with “a public interest organization, a governmental agency, or as a clinical teaching fellow at Georgetown Law.”
The program also has the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Fellowship for women’s rights lawyers from Africa. Through this program, they can earn an LL.M. degree and work an internship before going back to their home countries with their new skills and knowledge.
Harvard offers many programs that are great for law students interested in women’s rights. From their useful guide, we can read about courses offered such as:
- Families and Children: Law and Policy Clinical Workshop
- Gender, Locally, Globally: The Possibilities of Law: Reading Group
- Gender Violence, Law and Social Justice: Seminar
- Family Law Course
- International Reproductive/Sexual Health Rights: Reading Group
- Poverty Law Course
- Power, Beauty, Sex and Violence: Reading Group
- Title IX Clinical
- Theories of Violence: Gender & Sexuality: Reading Group
- Reproductive Rights and the Jurisprudence of Equality in the Context of a Transforming Supreme Court Sex Equality Course
Yale Law School
Yale boasts the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights
which has four components:
- The Global Constitutionalism Seminar
The Gruber Distinguished Lectures in Global Justice and Women’s Rights
The Gruber Global Justice and Women’s Rights Fellowships
The Gruber Project in Global Justice and Women’s Rights
In the Gruber Global Justice and Women’s Rights Fellowships, students have the chance to spend a year working on issues related to women’s rights or global justice.
Cornell Law School
Cornell Law School has the Cornell Center for Women and Justice. At this center, the mission is to “work with judges, legal professionals, and governmental and non-governmental organizations to improve access to justice in an effort to eliminate violence against women and girls.”
The center organizes clinical projects centered on improving justice for women and girls. A project might be writing a report, evaluating laws on justice for victims of gender-based violence, or developing training materials.
The Cornell Center for Women and Justice also has the Women and Justice Collection. The collection is a free database that lets you search for legal decisions “that protect women’s rights and prevent and punish gender-based violence.”
University of Virginia School of Law
At the University of Virginia School of Law, you can find their Human Rights Program. Through this program, law students can get experience with the International Human Rights Clinic. Since women’s rights are human rights and vice versa, many areas would be relevant to students studying women’s rights. Students can get practical experience in:
- Gender-based violence, women’s, and LGBTI rights
- Rights of indigenous people
- Legal literacy and empowerment
- Right to education
- Right to an effective remedy
- Right to life and prohibition against torture
- Human rights in the Middle East
The Next Steps
With all of these law schools for women’s rights, hopefully you’ll find one that fits your career plans. Once you’ve decided which law school is best for you, make sure you prepare the best application possible. Most importantly, improve your LSAT score by signing up with Magoosh LSAT Online Prep.