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The Best of Two Worlds

New skills-based course brings students to Guatemala

Seton Hall Law has combined its focus on building legal skills with a study abroad program through its new course, Transnational Lawyering Skills: The Rule of Law in Guatemala. This 2-credit course, for 2L and 3L students, augments the original Guatemala Rule of Law program, in which a delegation of students travel to Guatemala for a week-long schedule of tours and educational sessions, each designed to focus on essential lawyering skills.

The program was developed by Professor Lori Nessel, Director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice (CSJ) and the leader of the CSJ’s International Human Rights/Rule of Law initiatives, and Professor Jonathan Hafetz, author of Habeas Corpus after 9/11: Confronting America's New Global Detention System (NYU Press, 2011), who is renowned for his work on issues of national security and international human rights.

In the classroom, students will explore a range of international human rights issues to learn methods and techniques for investigating and synthesizing their findings that can raise awareness of the international human rights issues and effect change. Then, they will travel to Guatemala to understand how those skills are applied. 

Trip Itinerary

  1. Casa Alianza, a leading non-government organization supporting exploited youth in Guatemala. Skills: developing and presenting a know-your-rights training on trafficking and on cross cultural competency.
  2. Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala (ODHAG), a prominent human rights organization seeking justice for victims of human rights abuses during Guatemala’s armed conflict. Skills: interviewing skills and the enforcement of human rights violations. Particular attention will be given to the challenges of interviewing victims of and witnesses to human rights abuses.
  3. Rafael Landívar University, which runs several rural legal clinics established by this Jesuit University. Skills: interviewing, working with interpreters, and cross-cultural competency.
  4. Historical Archive of the National Police of Guatemala, containing millions of documents recovered from the Guatemalan police from the period of Guatemala’s civil war. Skills: documenting and investigating human rights violations.

Professors Nessel and Hafetz are accepting applications from students through April 5. Click here to learn more about the course and the application parameters.

Read what students have to say about the Guatemala Rule of Law Program: 

"I was inspired by these lawyers doing human rights work in Guatemala. We were exposed to lawyers fighting governmental decisions that destroyed the Guatemalan ecosystem, lawyers who work in public interest legal clinics, and lawyers fighting corruption and violence at the highest level. Furthermore we were able to engage advocates and others on issues of the highest importance for human rights, women's rights, and indigenous rights. All in all, it was an amazing trip that exposed us to how a different country uses the law to advance social justice.”

- Sebastian Sanchez '12

“My favorite part of the trip was when we visited a legal clinic and spoke to the Guatemalan law students about the cases they face on a daily bases. When they told me about specific incidences I could not help but relate my experiences with the work I’ve done in the U.S. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

- Jessica Zamora '13

“I was most impacted by our meeting with the clinical law students from Rafael Landivar University’s rural Legal Action Office. Before this experience, I had never met fellow law students from a foreign country who shared the same desire to provide pro bono legal representation to those in need. It was comforting to learn that we were all motivated by the desire to help others. The entire experience put my legal career in perspective and confirmed my commitment to public interest.”

- Santos Flores ‘12