Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tasnim Motala ’16

I decided to attend Yale Law School after coming to Admitted Students Week. What really sold me was attending a dinner at a professor’s home. First, the idea that all the admitted students could fit into one professor’s home was really amazing to me, and secondly, the professor and the other faculty whom I met didn’t make me feel like just another face in the crowd. They really took the time to get to know me, to talk to me, ask me what my interests were, and tell me how my interests could fit in and also develop at Yale Law School, and I think that’s what really sold me on the Law School.

I’ve engaged in human rights law in a couple different ways here. The primary way is through my human rights clinic. The Lowenstein Clinic focuses on human rights issues broadly, so both domestically and internationally, focusing on a wide range of different issues from detention, labor violations, issues of migration, genocide and crimes against humanity, wage theft, etc. Through my clinic I’ve been involved in a number of projected relating to different areas of human rights and also learning from my classmates who are on completely different projects than I am and just understanding what are some major human rights issues that are occurring, both domestically and abroad. How do we use human rights language to help us in different areas of the law? And really grappling with moral questions of human rights and human rights law that practitioners deal with on a daily basis. That’s the primary way I’ve engaged with human rights at Yale Law School. The second way is through the Yale Journal of International Law. The Yale Journal of International Law publishes international legal scholarship. A number of our pieces that we’ve published and that I’ve worked on have focused on human rights issues and evolving human rights norms. Being an executive editor on the Journal of International Law has given me the opportunity to engage with and work very closely with the different academic scholars, practitioners, and other individuals who’ve been involved with human rights in a variety of different fields. That’s been a way that I’ve engaged with human rights law in an academic way.

Another organization that I’m involved with here is the Muslim Law Students Association. There are not a large number of Muslims here but that’s partly because we’re a small school. But I’ve always found the faculty to be very supportive, the administration very supportive in helping us to advocate for our needs. Additionally, we put together some programming this year that looked at human rights abuses in the name of national security and how this particularly affects the Muslim community. This series of programming was really meaningful to me and I think a lot of other Muslim students here because we were able to provide this voice that’s often left behind when we talk about national security and counter-terrorism. It was really refreshing to me that the administration was open to us putting on this programming. It was refreshing to see my classmates open to attending this programming and really be open to learning about this often-overlooked issue. So I think that will also be a memorable moment for me at the Law School and something I’ll look back on fondly.

A student perspective on human rights law and clinics at Yale Law School.