I decided to throw up this poll to see what feedback I would get.
Just some info about me
1) I would like to limit debt as much as possible - i want to go to a good school but not pay an arm and a leg
2) I have an MA in International Human Rights Law - spent two years in Cairo, Egypt - most likely looking to head back abroad doing ngo work (please spare me the international law doesnt exist stuff)
3) Weather is not a big deal for me - despite never experiencing a real winter, I have no aversion to snow
if you need anymore info for your decision, let me know
Have you looked into Michigan's Geneva International Fellows program? If you're interested in gaining access to international human rights opportunities, this really should be a game-changer for your decision. Every year, Michigan's pre-existing placements put an average of 14-16 students at IOs in the human rights capital of the world for a semester of academic credit, in addition to a series of seminars, speaker events, and networking opportunities exclusive to Michigan students. It's hard enough to have access to international human rights externships as an American law student during the summer, but Michigan's program is an entire semester of intensive experience instead of a shorter summer program surrounded by hoards of other interns from around the world competing for the same positions. Of course, every year many students who participate in this program still stay for the summer to work at other IOs in Geneva -- the networking opportunities are unparalleled when you can grab coffee/drinks with leading members of the international human rights community on a daily basis. There really isn't another program like it in the T14 (see: http://www.law.umich.edu/mlawglobal/internationalopportunities/Pages/Externships.aspx
By comparison, Duke has a couple of placements that are pre-approved for academic credit by the curriculum committee (see: http://www.law.duke.edu/internat/exchange
). Columbia has a semester-long program with 10-hour per week placements at the United Nations in New York (see: http://www.law.columbia.edu/programs/social-justice/externships/F10/UN
), which is hardly the same as a semester of full time work at OHCHR, UNHCR, or other international organizations in Geneva for anyone interested in international human rights law. And while clinics geared towards human rights are wonderful, doing a clinic while balancing other courses is hardly a substitute for working full-time for the organizations that are actually on the ground making a difference. And, to address the other posters, all the big name professors in the world won't make more of an impression than working directly with the people that hire for these positions. Of course, Michigan has those names, too: Hathaway, Ratner, Simma, etc.
If you're really serious about this career path, I think Michigan puts all the opportunities you can ask for within your reach. If you have any specific questions, feel free to shoot me a pm.