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An insight into different ways of working with human rights: Q&A with LLM graduate Emma Lennhammer

Former Human Rights Law Clinic student and LLM graduate Emma Lennhammer leaning against a low wall, with a background of blue sky reflected in the water of a river running by buildings with arched architecture and flowers.

6 October 2022

With applications to our Human Rights Law Clinic (HRLC) currently open, we caught up with recent Law graduate Emma Lennhammer (LLM 2022) to hear about her time at the HRLC, what she found most inspiring, how the experience has helped her in terms of preparing for the workplace, and what advice she would give to students starting out in the Human Rights Law Clinic.

Why did you decide to study law at Bristol?

I have an interdisciplinary background in human rights studies and thought that an LLM in international human rights law would be a good complement.

What most inspired you about working at the Human Rights Law Clinic?

Working at the Human Rights Law Clinic was a wonderful opportunity to get practical experience during my studies. I especially enjoyed the collaboration with other actors, such as the Forest Peoples Programme. It gave me an insight into different ways of working with human rights, and the many challenges we face in light of, for example, climate change.

What has been a highlight for you during your time at the Human Rights Law Clinic?

Our work at the Human Rights Law Clinic started by quickly gathering information related to the UN treaty bodies on environmental questions and human rights. The fast pace and intense learning were both exciting and a valuable experience. I also enjoyed the opportunities for networking that the engagement offered — something which I am positive will be fruitful for the future.

What has been the most challenging aspect of working in the Human Rights Law Clinic?

I would say that a challenging aspect — but also most exciting — is to fast become more knowledgeable in an area of human rights that may be less familiar initially. However, with the guidance from both Professor Rachel Murray (Director of the Law School's Human Rights Implementation Centre) and the Forest Peoples Programme, we managed to prioritise and structure our work well.

What have you been working on since leaving the Human Rights Law Clinic?

I am currently working in migration law, focusing on asylum cases, and work pro bono for Amnesty Sápmi on indigenous rights (focusing on the Sámi people) and climate justice in Sápmi. The project at the Human Rights Law Clinic that was conducted in collaboration with the Forest Peoples Programme has thus been especially relevant for my current engagement.

How has the experience helped you in terms of preparing for the workplace?

I would say that the project on environmental questions and human rights was especially valuable considering my engagement in Amnesty Sápmi. However, the experience at the Human Rights Law Clinic has overall been a wonderful opportunity. That is also why I would encourage all LLM students with an interest in human rights to apply.

What words of advice would you give a student starting out in the Human Rights Law Clinic?

Enjoy the time at the Human Rights Law Clinic! I would also recommend to communicate with your team regarding the work and your other commitments at the university, to help you maintain a healthy balance between your studies, engagement at the Clinic, and your life outside of the university.

Further information

The Human Rights Law Clinic offers law students a unique opportunity to work with international, regional and national organisations engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights law. 

  • Applications are currently open to law students to join our Human Rights Law Clinic.  

The deadline for applications is Friday 14 October 2022.  

Our LLM in Human Rights Law reflects an area of law that is critical in providing the frameworks necessary to protect the dignity of human beings around the world. It offers students an opportunity to graduate and meet a growing demand for specialist lawyers that have human rights experience and knowledge – and a determination to tackle human rights violations. 

The Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC) at the University of Bristol Law School is a leading institution for the implementation of human rights, that works in collaboration with a number of organisations and bodies, including those in the United Nations, the African Union, the Council of Europe, as well as with governments and organisations at the national level.

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