Law Clinics

The International Law Department of the Graduate Institute offers one of the richest clinical programmes on international law, worldwide. Law clinics are composed of small groups of highly qualified and carefully selected students of the Graduate Institute who do pro bono work for an actual beneficiary (most often an NGO, government or international organisation) on a real-life project, such as research, to support a treaty negotiation, an assessment of international law compliance or implementation, or preparation for possible litigation or arbitration.

Faculty and other professionals with longstanding experience in the field closely supervise the students’ work. Clinics are a win-win for all involved: beneficiaries get expert work done for free and build capacity; students learn by doing, obtain academic credits and expand their network; faculty and expert supervisors share their knowledge on cutting-edge issues and are able to attract or hire top students with proven skills. Clinical projects can be conducted on a (partially or fully) confidential basis (where beneficiaries do not want to share the output of the work or even the fact that the project is taking place, given the sensitivity of the issues involved) or on an open basis (where students' work can be shared with the broader public).

In all cases, clinical work done by students at the Graduate Institute is offered on a pro bono basis as a pedagogical exercise. It is important for beneficiaries to understand that this is not professional legal advice and in no way establishes a client-attorney relationship. Thanks to the diversity and professional networks of our faculty, the outstanding quality of our students, and our location in Geneva, at the heart of international law, we are able to offer our students four unique legal clinics:

  • TradeLab International Economic Law Clinic
  • LL.M. International Law Clinic
  • Migrants’ Rights Law Clinic
  • Legal Issues in International Organizations Clinic

Important Disclaimer:

All documents and communications issued by Graduate Institute Clinics are for research purposes only and on a pro bono basis, which includes student engagement. The Clinics are a pedagogical exercise to train students in the practice of international law; they do not, and cannot, provide professional legal advice. No client-attorney relation is, at any time, established. No Clinic document or other communication can in any way bind, or lead to any form of liability or responsibility for its authors, the supervisors of the Clinic or the Graduate Institute.

TradeLab International Economic Law Clinic

Subject matter: international economic law, in particular, World Trade Organization, regional trade agreements, investment treaties, negotiation, implementation, compliance, arbitration & dispute settlement.

Open to: all students of the Graduate Institute with the required background (including, on occasion, non-law students) except for LL.M. students

Requests for pro bono help may be sent to: joost.pauwelyn@graduateinstitute.ch or info@tradelab.org

Through pro bono legal clinics and practica, TradeLab connects students and experienced legal professionals to public officials especially in developing countries, small and medium-sized enterprises and civil society to build lasting legal capacity. Through 'learning by doing’ TradeLab trains and promotes the next generation of trade and investment lawyers. By providing information and support on negotiations, compliance and litigation, TradeLab strives to make WTO, preferential trade and bilateral investment treaties work for everyone.

Click here to learn more.

LL.M. International Law Clinic

 

Subject matter: broad coverage of international law projects

Open to: LL.M. students only

Requests for pro bono help may be sent to: llm@graduateinstitute.ch

Our LL.M. International Law Clinic Programme provides students with an opportunity to work on a cutting-edge research project with one of our external clinic partners. Among our clinic partners are well-known international organisations and NGOs in Geneva. Clinic projects are thematically related to the three specialty streams of the LL.M., namely the Protection of Vulnerable Groups, International Economic Law or Environment, Energy and Natural Resources. All LL.M. students are required to participate in a clinical project. Learn more about our LL.M. International Law Clinic Programme and the partners we work with here.

Migrants’ Rights Law Clinic
 

Subject matter: International Migration Law, International Refugee Law, International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law

Open to: all students of the Graduate Institute except for LL.M. students

Requests for pro bono help may be sent to: globalmigration@graduateinstitute.ch

The Migrants’ Rights Law Clinic (MRLC) stands as a unique initiative in the heart of International Geneva to foster neutral, practical and solution-oriented expertise and dialogue. The MRLC acts as an independent pool of expertise at the disposal of governments, as well as international and non-governmental organisations. Its aim is to provide objective and pro bono expertise on the multifaceted issues relating to the human rights of migrants. The services offered by the MRLC are tailored to stakeholders’ needs and can take a variety of forms, such as research briefs, preparatory research, fact-finding reports or expert opinions.

Supervised by Dr Vincent Chetail, Professor of International Law and Director of the Global Migration Centre (GMC), the MRLC capitalises on the leading expertise of the GMC in the field of migration and human rights. It actively involves post-graduate students from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, offering them a unique practical experience during their studies. Striving for the highest quality and degree of professionalism, students are selected on the basis of their strong motivation, commitment and skills.

Legal Issues in International Organisations Clinic

 

Subject matter: international organisations law, law of global governance, as well as legal issues arising in the practice of international organisations. 

Open to:  all students of the Graduate Institute with the required background (including, on occasion, non-law students) except for LL.M. students.

Requests for pro bono help may be sent to Gian Luca Burci or Nico Krisch.

The aim of this clinic is to assist students in developing a fuller set of skills required to address increasingly complex global problems. It focuses on current legal questions related to the activities of international organisations, both concerning the substance of an organisation’s work and its structure,  internal working and procedures. Students will work in small teams under the supervision of the instructors on projects for client organisations, either in Geneva or abroad. The precise focus of the projects will be determined in cooperation with the organisations, based on their current needs and interests. The clinic will begin with a number of seminar sessions which will introduce students to the framework in which legal issues in international organisations are embedded, and the skills required to address such issues. Work on the projects may include meetings and interviews with the client organisation. At the end of the semester, the groups will submit written legal memos and orally present their projects. Spaces are limited to around 10-15 students and allocated based on CV, acquired knowledge of international organisations law and the nature of the projects.