Alumni Services

Where We Are Now: after studying Human Rights

From working to eliminate violence against women in Mexico, representing immigrants in American immigration courts and the precision of legal translation. Here 3 graduates of Human Rights share their stories of life after graduation.

Name Courtney McCausland Nadya Noor Azalea Carlos Guillermo Leon Rodriguez
Degree Course LLM Human Rights LLM Human Rights LLM Human Rights
Year of Graduation 2018 2019 2019
Photos of Courtney McCausland, Carlos Guillermo Leon Rodriguez and Nadya Noor Azalia
Courtney McCausland, Carlos Guillermo Leon Rodriguez and Nadya Noor Azalia

What path has your career taken since graduation?

Courtney: I began practicing immigration law in the United States. My first job in the field was working as an associate attorney at a private law firm in Oakland, California. After a year in private practice, I accepted a position with a non-profit organization, Catholic Charities East Bay, where I was brought on to build their “Removal Defence” program as an Immigration Removal Defence Attorney. In the U.S. immigration context, removal defence work involves representing people in immigration court, whom the U.S. government is trying to deport from the country. In Autumn 2019 I was also hired by UC Berkeley Law School to begin teaching a course in legal research and writing in their LLM programme; unfortunately this position has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nadya: After my graduation, I decided to go back to my home country, Indonesia, to participate in some research activities. Luckily, I had established good network and developed new skills during my stay in Edinburgh, which helped me to build my career as a legal translator and researcher.

Carlos: I have ten years of work experience in the public and non-governmental sectors. Before and after graduation, I have closely defended victims of torture, disappearance, sexual violence, and medical malpractice, among other abuses in Mexico, because I am committed to seeking justice for those most in need. A particularly salient example is when I represented legally more than thirty families whose children died or were injured in the fire at the ABC Daycare in Hermosillo, Sonora, on June 5, 2009. To this day, this remains one of the most emblematic cases of human rights violations in Mexico. My work successfully obtained the first resolution of remedy and reparation for the families from a federal court.

What is your current role and what does your work involve?

Courtney: As a Removal Defense Attorney for Catholic Charities East Bay, I represent immigrants in removal proceedings in American immigration courts. I identify what forms of relief from removal they may be eligible for, assist them in applying for those forms of relief (such as asylum), and represent them in each stage of litigation. The part of my work that I find most rewarding is my client engagement: building a relationship with a client involves developing a huge degree of trust, as these people are coming to me at a deeply vulnerable time, often times after having suffered extreme trauma (which they then are expected to recount in excruciating detail time and time again, for complete strangers, in a system designed to exclude them). I can never promise a client that we will win their case, but I strive every day to earn their trust with honest, compassionate, and zealous representation. The feeling when we are successful in their case is incomparable – for everyone who succeeds in these cases, it changes their lives; for many, it saves their lives.

Nadya: I work as a legal translator for a translation company in Jakarta and as a researcher for some projects related to human rights, education and political administration. My job as a legal translator involves researching legal and technical phraseology and terms, assisting in the preparation of confidential legal documents, collecting and analysing relevant legal documents from different sources to ensure the consistency of the nuances in the translated documents, ensuring that the intended message contained in the source text is maintained and coherent the target language. Some projects that I worked on include translation of draft bill, presidential / ministerial regulation, notarial deed, national court documents, international arbitration documents, reports of UN bodies and so on.

Carlos: I have recently started to work in a new position in the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, within the Spotlight Initiative, a project aimed to eliminate violence against women and girls at the headquarters in Mexico City. My job will be to provide legal advice to contribute to the effective prevention and eradication of femicide and other forms of violence against women and girls through a holistic approach.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in your area of work?

Courtney: Get as much experience as you can while you are at University. Volunteer, do internships, seek out fellowships, etc. Your degree will give you the exposure to the subject matter and critical thinking skills you need, but you won’t get a real feel for what it means to do the work (and whether it is something you’re interested in doing as a career) until you get hands-on experience. These experiences will also make you more competitive when it comes time to apply for a job in the field!

Nadya: Legal translation career requires hours of extensive reading and research, attention to detail and precision, understanding of technical and scientific terms as well as comprehension of different legal cultures and systems. It may seem like an exhausting job at first, but it is worth it as it may offer you a chance to learn about new subjects every time new project is coming your way.

Carlos: The general advice that I could give to students interested in pursuing a career in human rights is, firstly, to work from the beginning, because there must be an adequate balance between academic and professional experience. Secondly, is that you should never stop learning, don't just stay with the master's degree, look for international courses that will provide you with more tools and experiences.

Finally, and this is a piece of personal advice, working in the world of human rights requires a lot of passion and conviction, because sometimes we are going to face challenging situations, but at the end of the day, we will be satisfied to contribute to building a more just world.