Legal Education for Human Rights Work: Social Work Practicum Students in Forensic Placements
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The Council on Social Work Education tasks social work programs to ensure students illustrate competency with regard to advocating for and advancing human rights. Given the three generations of human rights experience differing levels of guarantee and protection, multiple tools are needed in order to advance human rights across the board. As human rights cannot be sufficiently realized until they are protected by law, many of those tools are made more useful when combined with knowledge of the legal system and processes. Advocacy is a key aspect of social work practice, and therefore social work education provides a solid foundational understanding on the legislative branch of government. However, as all three branches of government have the ability to impact human rights law, social work programs are advised to integrate more opportunities for students to learn about the judicial and executive branches as well. Recognizing that not all programs are positioned to inject forensic social work education into their curriculum, an interprofessional practicum model that integrates social work students into university legal clinics is provided.