Updated for 2023
Building an equal, prosperous, and peaceful society requires a legal system that ensures everyone is protected from injustices. Yet even with constitutional rights and thorough legislation in place, bad things occur and justice isn’t always served. Even worse, some exploitations, like the abuse of human rights (including women’s rights) and government corruption, are simply allowed or quietly encouraged.
Lawyers are the ones that ensure laws are actually implemented and basic rights and freedoms are protected. It’s a very tough job, but an admirable one.
So, first and foremost, kudos to you for entering a noble profession!
As an aspiring lawyer, you can jumpstart your career by volunteering in a legal program abroad or doing an international law internship. You can not only hone your legal skills and add solid experience to your CV or resume, but you can also study another country’s legal system and learn about a new culture and language. That international experience will be highly valued by prospective employers.
From legal internships abroad in corporate law to volunteer opportunities with NGOs, you have a diverse array of options. Let this article be your guide for learning about what you can do and where you can go as a law volunteer or intern abroad.
Types Of International Law Internships And Volunteer Programs
International law internships for law students range across all fields of law, including criminal law, business law, environmental law, and civil rights law. You can definitely find a program that fits your skills, preferences, and career goals
Listed below are some popular types of law volunteer abroad programs and international law internships.
Law and Human Rights Internships and Volunteer Programs
Put your legal skills to the test as you fight against injustices. Work to combat racism, gender inequality, poverty, and other issues in local communities. Assist human rights lawyers as they give a voice to the voiceless and work to have basic rights and freedoms protected.
Example program: Maximo Nivel has a human rights internship in Peru that aims to end violence, exploitation, and discrimination against women, children, and indigenous people.
Law Internships in Fast-Growing Countries
Fast-growing countries must make certain the legal system keeps up with a changing economy and society. Such law internships abroad represent a chance to gain experience in increasingly important markets and help nations improve and develop a sustainable legal system. No matter if you specialize in technology law, insurance law, banking regulation, or another legal field, you can make a positive difference.
Example program: Projects Abroad offers law internships in Mongolia, where you can work in antitrust and trade regulation, taxation, labor law, and other legal sectors. Their law internship in Senegal focuses on promoting human rights and social justice.
Environmental Law Internships and Volunteer Programs
When you participate in an environmental law internship program, you’ll strive to improve nature and wildlife conservation and build a sustainable future. Common responsibilities may include monitoring environmental crimes, contributing to legal research for environmental legislation, and increasing awareness of environmental laws.
Example program: African Impact offers law internships with NGOs in South Africa. You can volunteer as a legal intern with a non-profit called Nature Justice. There, you’ll do hands-on legal work in local communities in order to conserve biological diversity and ensure responsible use of natural resources.
Customizable International Law Internships and Volunteer Programs
Intern abroad organizations understand aspiring lawyers have different goals. That’s why they partner with legal firms, NGOs, companies, and government agencies across all sorts of locations. This way, you can land a legal internship in the location and area of law you want.
Example program: Looking for legal internships in Europe within your area of expertise? Check out The Intern Group, an organization that offers law internships in London, Barcelona, Madrid, and Dublin. When you apply, you can choose your preferences for destination, type of organization, and legal field (commercial law, immigration law, intellectual property law, etc).
Featured Organizations And Programs
Maximo Nivel launched in 2003 with a focus on providing meaningful volunteer and intern abroad programs in Latin America. Their initiatives focus on education, community development, environmental conservation, and human rights. Maximo Nivel’s programs are internationally accredited, so if you’re in school, check to see if you can get academic credit.
With Maximo Nivel, you can choose among various legal and human rights internships, including the following:
Human Rights Internship in San Jose, Costa Rica
Price: from $1,925 for four weeks
Work with community organizations, NGOs, and government agencies to address human rights issues in Costa Rica. Use your skills to improve women’s rights, promote inclusion of the LGBTQ community, prevent discrimination against refugees, and boost representation of native peoples in politics. Common tasks include community outreach, education, and legal research.
During free time, have fun in San Jose, a bustling city with great cuisine and entertainment, and trek in the surrounding rainforests. Sound like the program for you? Apply here!
Human Rights Internship in Antigua, Guatemala
Price: from $1,425 for four weeks
Guatemala deals with issues such as poor utilization of natural resources, corruption, and a lack of legal protections for women and indigenous peoples. As an intern, you can provide a voice for those facing severe disadvantages and help them gain opportunities to build a brighter future. Partner with NGOs and community organizations, and be a change agent by lending your skills to community outreach, education, and fundraising efforts.
When you’re not working, take the opportunity to see Antigua, a city that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture will amaze you. Ready to make a difference in Guatemala? Get all the internship details here!
Established in 1992, Projects Abroad sends more than 10,000 volunteers and interns abroad each year. Featured in publications like the Los Angeles Times, CNBC, and USA Today, Projects Abroad is one of the most trusted and reputable names in the industry. They have excellent support for volunteers and a large variety of high-quality programs, including law internships abroad.
Read through these legal internships offered by Projects Abroad:
Law Internship in Mongolia
The Law Internship in Mongolia is an opportunity for individuals to gain legal work experience in a developing country while helping people in need. Interns will work alongside local lawyers, paralegals, and clerks in a professional environment, performing tasks such as registering new applicants, conducting interviews, attending court, and drafting legal documents. Through this work, interns will gain a deeper insight into the legal and human rights challenges people face in Mongolia, as well as gain valuable experience in the legal field. The program is open to anyone 18 or over, with no previous experience required. The program runs year-round, with a minimum duration of four weeks and the option to stay longer.
Law Internship in China
Price: from $4,060 for four weeks; $7,500 for 12 weeks
Travel to Chengdu or Shanghai, China, where you’ll work in a fast-paced law firm. As a legal intern, your duties will include everything from proofreading documents and helping with court cases to reviewing letters and business proposals. You’ll shadow Chinese lawyers as they work with clients, attend court hearings, and engage in cross-cultural education about the legal system in China and your own country. Placements focus on different areas, like contract law, labor law, and family law.
This is a program where you can truly build your CV and gain valuable international work experience, as this past intern attests:
“Towards the end of my internship, I had more clarity about the direction I wished to take with my career.”
After work, enjoy life in Shanghai, where the action and entertainment never stops, or Chengdu, a modern city known for its casual pace and spicy cuisine. Interested? Apply for this law internship in China here!
Law Internship in Accra, Ghana
Price: from $4,060 for four weeks; $7,500 for 12 weeks
Journey to Accra, where you’ll gain greater insight into Ghana’s judicial system as you work at a law firm. The law firm where you’ll work focuses on providing legal support for human rights disputes. As an intern, your duties will include drafting documents, preparing clients for their cases, and observing local lawyers in court. Placements focus on various fields of law where human rights issues occur, like real estate law, criminal law, and constitutional law.
This is an internship that will challenge you to learn more. You’ll gain international work experience and do some good for Ghana’s most vulnerable citizens. After work, you’re free to experience Accra, a happening capital known for its cultural sites and golden sand. Intrigued? Apply for this law internship in Ghana here!
It’s no surprise volunteers have rated African Impact as a Top Volunteer Abroad Organization. They create life-changing journeys that enable volunteers to make a difference and have a wonderful time. Having worked hand-in-hand with African communities since 2004, African Impact now has programs across 12 countries and is a great choice if you’re looking to volunteer abroad in Africa.
Check out African Impact’s law internship and gender equality (human rights) internship in South Africa below:
Human Rights and NGO Law Internship in Cape Town, South Africa
Price: from $2,550 for six weeks
Through African Impact’s internship in Cape Town, there are several types of assignments. Example placements include:
South African Human Rights Commission: As a legal intern and vital assistant to human rights lawyers, you’ll monitor legislation that pertains to human rights and even make trips to the South African Parliament. You’ll assess human rights claims and identify cases worth pursuing in the equality courts.
Scheibert & Associates: Gain exposure to a wide range of legal fields while working at the firm, such as international and local tax law, estate planning, immigration law, and property law.
Women’s Legal Centre (WLC): Work for gender equality by helping with litigation work in the areas of gender-based violence and land, labor, relationship, and health rights. Use your legal knowledge to push for a better tomorrow for women in South Africa.
Your internship through African Impact is a great chance to gain experience in legal research, document drafting, and client interactions. For human rights law placements especially, your work will go a long way in combating injustices that stem from issues such as xenophobia, racism, poverty, gender inequality, and other prejudices in communities.
This is why past participants have great things to say about the program, like this intern:
“My internship allowed me to exercise the legal research skills I had developed at university while also teaching me how to work in the completely unpredictable world of NGOs. I’ve learned so much about South Africa and myself since I got here.”
Are you ready to do a law internship in the amazing city of Cape Town? Discover all the details on the site.
Gender Equality Internship
If you are interested in Human Rights law, then volunteering for the Gender Equality Internship in Zambia is a great opportunity to gain professional experience and specialize in gender empowerment initiatives. By joining the team, you will have the chance to make a positive impact on the lives of young girls in rural Zambia who face social isolation, economic vulnerability, and a lack of appropriate health services. You will also be able to form part of the Girl Impact initiative, which seeks to empower these young women through workshops, mentorship, and support in areas such as education, health, safety, and self-confidence. Additionally, this internship will give you the opportunity to work alongside other passionate volunteers and interns, gain exposure to international development issues, and develop new skills. And, as an added bonus, you will get to live in the adventure capital of Africa near one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – Victoria Falls!
Intern Abroad HQ
Brought to you by the same team behind International Volunteer HQ, Intern Abroad HQ connects students and young professionals to high-quality, affordable, and impactful internships around the world. Internships through Intern Abroad HQ promote cross-cultural competency, along with personal and professional skills development.
If you’re looking for law and legal internships abroad, Intern Abroad HQ is a top choice, as they feature high-quality programs like this international law and human rights internship in Italy. See some more options below.
Law and Human Rights Internship in Cape Town, South Africa
Price: from $920 for two weeks
As a law and human rights intern in Cape Town, South Africa, you’ll help protect and uphold universal human rights by combating xenophobia, gender inequality, racism, poverty, and other injustices. You’ll get to understand the challenges South Africa’s post-apartheid government and society face on a daily basis. As an intern, specific tasks include legal research, clerical support, and case management. This is a great program if you wish to see firsthand how legal professions are vital in creating a more just world.
When you’re not interning, explore Cape Town and its history, scenery, and entertainment. Ready for a trip to South Africa? Find out more about the program here.
Environmental Law Internship in Samos Island, Greece
Price: from $1,125 for four weeks
Want to use your legal skills to help the environment? Then this program in Greece is for you.For this environmental law internship, you’ll contribute to legal analysis concerning environmental laws, such as European Union fisheries legislation and management of protected areas, as well as research environmental crimes, like pollution incidents. Your work will help combat illegal fishing, destruction of natural habitats, the illegal trade of endangered wildlife and plants, and more.
What’s great about this program is that you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the Greek Islands and the relaxation they offer. Want to learn more? Click here!
Plan My Gap Year
Working across 17 countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, Plan My Gap Yearemphasizes being affordable, safe, and impactful. Among the most trusted names in volunteering and gap year adventures, PMGY was founded for volunteers by volunteers in 2011. Today, they place more than 4,000 volunteers abroad per year.
If you want to join a law and human rights volunteer program abroad, Plan My Gap Year is doing a lot of good work with NGOs in Vietnam. Read below!
NGO Volunteer Program in Hanoi, Vietnam
Price: from $684 for two weeks
Utilize your legal skills to tackle key issues in Vietnam, such as health and human rights. As an NGO volunteer, you’ll be a part of a grassroots movement to promote civil development and reform in rural and urban areas. Plan My Gap Year works with several NGOs in Hanoi, like the Asian Management and Development Institute (AMDI) and the Centre for Education and Development (CED), to make a difference in Vietnamese society. Where you’re placed depends on your education, experience, and preferences.
When you’re free, make the most of your time in Hanoi. Walk around the Old Quarter, see the Temple of Literature, and more. Already packing your bags? Sign up here first!
Founded in 2009, Love Volunteers aims to provide transformative intercultural experiences and create lasting change in the communities they serve. Focused on full transparency and low fees, Love Volunteers offers intern and volunteer abroad opportunities in more than 35 countries across the world, including legal initiatives abroad.
Check out Love Volunteers’ legal internship program in Cambodia below:
Law and Human Rights Internship in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Price: from $609 for four weeks
Head to the capital of Cambodia, where you’ll fight for social justice. Working with a human rights non-governmental organization, your role as a legal intern will be to support those who face human rights violations and discrimination, such as families being forcefully evicted from their homes and women and children suffering from domestic violence. By doing so, you’ll help build a fairer society, improve understanding of human rights, and improve the future prospects of Cambodia’s most impoverished and marginalized citizens.
During off-hours, visit sites in Phnom Penh, like Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Wat Phnom (a temple), enjoy the cuisine, and take in the buzz of an exciting city. Is Cambodia calling your name? Sign up here!
A Broader View Volunteers Corp
Featuring more than 245 overseas programs, A Broader View has been around since 2007 and is known for their cost-effective programs for volunteers and commitment to doing good for those who need it most. In their first 12 years, A Broader View placed more than 20,000 volunteers and interns abroad.
For law and legal volunteer programs, A Broader View has a great youth advocacy initiative in Zambia (see details below):
Human Youth Advocacy Program in Lusaka, Zambia
Price: from $820 for one week
Youth and young adults in Lusaka face injustices, notably human rights abuses and arbitrary incarceration. As a volunteer, you’ll do the following:
- Provide orphanage support: Give children better access to education and empower them to break the cycle of poverty.
- Assist with cases: Monitor incarcerated youth, provide social support, and assist with skills training.
- Raise awareness: Research and write funding proposals, host workshops, and do community outreach.
When you’re not volunteering, travel around Lusaka and see sites like Lusaka National Museum and Munda Wanga Environmental Park. Are you prepared to help Zambian youth overcome legal challenges? Get all the info on the program here!
The Intern Group
Price: depends on program, position, and location; inquire with The Intern Group beforehand
Featured by the likes of Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and Time, The Intern Group is a leader in the international internship arena. An award-winning organization, The Intern Group specializes in placing students and young professionals in intern abroad programs where they can develop their skills and make an impact. Founded in 2011, they’re a highly reputable organization and an excellent choice for legal internships abroad.
Suitable for those considering law school, as well as law school students, The Intern Group offers personalized international law internships. They partner with numerous governments, law firms, corporations, NGOs, and universities, ensuring you can land a legal internship in an organization and destination that suits you. From tax law to criminal law to labor law, The Intern Group can give you access to all sorts of opportunities.
Whether you want a hands-on position at a large company or an altruistic role in an NGO, The Intern Group can connect you to positions. Support and learn from top industry professionals as you attend client meetings, assist with trial preparation, and do legal research.
For some inspiration on where you can go, take a look at where past interns have worked:
- Dublin, Ireland: Cahir O’Higgins & Company
- Bangkok, Thailand: Ployprathip International Law Office
- Chicago, USA: Relias & Tsonis LLC
Want a law internship that aligns with your career preferences? Apply today!
Making The Most As A Legal Intern Or Law Volunteer Abroad
As you look through law internships abroad, consider where you can put your knowledge and skills to best use, as well as where you’ll be truly challenged and motivated. From working in business law at a legal firm in New York City to improving human rights in Tanzania, you can use your legal know-how to make a big difference.
Getting international experience as a pre-law student, law student, or young professional can differentiate you in the legal industry. Take this as a great opportunity for you to learn, grow, and improve your employability. And make the most of this chance to create lasting change in the community where you work.
For even more info on law and legal volunteer programs and internships abroad, and how you can apply for programs and get scholarships, check out some of our other resources:
Human Rights and Social Work Internships Abroad
Volunteer Abroad for Free – No Fee Projects, Scholarships, and Fundraising
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.