Human Rights Legal Fellow

Human Rights Legal Fellow

(Evergreen Position)

Advocacy & Litigation Department


Location: Washington, DC

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights accepts applications from students and recent graduates with secured funding from a law school, foundation, or law firm, who are seeking a fellowship host for a postgraduate public interest fellowship. This is an evergreen legal fellowship that remains open for applications throughout the year. 


Our team of lawyers and issue experts collaborate with partners around the world to create lasting legal change. Through legal advocacy, we have freed political prisoners, defended the rule of law in autocratic regimes, and amplified the voices of human rights defenders in the United States and abroad. We present the annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, which recognizes a courageous individual whose activism reflects Robert F. Kennedy’s belief that every individual can make a difference. The award’s recipients enter multi-year partnerships with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, anchoring our advocacy work and strengthening the activists’ ability to make gentler the life of the world.

Job Responsibilities (may include but are not limited to):

  • Conducting factual research and drafting memoranda on the human rights situation in countries of interest to the organization and on thematic issues (e.g., the right to freedom of expression, right to nationality);
  • Conducting research on the application of international human rights norms to country conditions, developments in the domestic legal systems of specific countries and their implications for human rights, and other questions;
  • Preparing documents in support of litigation before international tribunals (e.g. Inter-American Human Rights System, African Human Rights System, UN Treaty Bodies), and in support of advocacy before governments, international organizations, and U.N. special procedures;
  • Helping maintain and manage communication with clients, human rights defenders, and civil society partners around the world in support of joint litigation and advocacy;
  • Attending and reporting on briefings, Congressional hearings, symposia, and other meetings;
  • Monitoring sources of information on countries and issues of concern to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and collect, organize, and analyze relevant research;
  • Working closely with programmatic staff to develop long-term strategies, legal actions, and advocacy campaigns;
  • Providing administrative support to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights staff on an as-needed basis;
  • Doing your part in keeping our operations running smoothly - tracking your hours and submitting timecards in a timely manner.


  • Must have secured funding from a law school, foundation, law firm, or other funding opportunity to support the postgraduate public interest fellowship (e.g. GW Law Pathways to Practice program, AU WCL JD Distinguished Fellowship program, etc.);
  • A Juris Doctorate (J.D.), J.D. equivalent, or L.L.M degree is required;
  • Demonstrated experience working with regional and international human rights law and norms; 
  • Authorization to work in the United States;
  • Working knowledge of the United Nations system and/or the regional human rights mechanisms (e.g. Inter-American Human Rights System, African Human Rights System, etc.), domestic legislative and human rights policy;
  • Ability to maintain active contacts with civil society as well as key stakeholders; 
  • Time management, you have the ability to manage multiple tasks and projects (especially relating to human rights issues) at once;
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills;
  • Attention to detail, you’re able to scope out errors and willing to fix mistakes;
  • High level of integrity and discretion in handling sensitive information;
  • Teamwork, you are able to build positive relationships with your colleagues and are willing to help others;
  • Inclusive, you’re excited to work with colleagues with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives from your own.

Preferred but not required qualifications:

  • Fluency in Spanish, French, and/or Arabic is helpful but not required.

How to Apply:

  • Please submit the following to with “Your Name + Evergreen Legal Fellow” in the subject heading.
    • Resume
    • Cover letter
    • Brief writing sample (preferably related to the topic of international human rights law)
    • List of three professional references
  • In your cover letter please include how you heard about this opportunity, why you’re interested in working with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and include a description of the nature of your funding source.  

Application Timing:

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year. Most fellowships begin in September and last for a year, but other arrangements can be made when needed. Please note, due to the high volume of applications received, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will only contact a shortlist of qualified candidates. No phone calls or emails, please.

You are welcomed here...

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and believes we are stronger and more effective by working internally and externally with people of all abilities, diverse backgrounds, and a range of perspectives, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or underrepresented. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. We do not discriminate in our hiring practices and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seek a diverse applicant pool.