Sustainable International Development LLM

UW Law's Sustainable International Development (SID) LLM provides lawyers with the tools to promote social change and a sustainable future for people and the planet. The program emphasizes promoting human rights and the rule of law, supporting sustained development and economic growth and preserving natural resources for future generations.

Practical approaches to global development challenges

Students learn through an innovative, hands-on and practical program, with a variety of clinical and collaborative opportunities designed to build the skills needed to face the international development challenges of the 21st century.

The SID graduate program has a robust course curriculum focusing on five key areas:

  • Rule of law and governance
  • Law as a tool of poverty alleviation
  • Rights of Indigenous peoples and communities
  • Global environmental protections
  • Corporate responsibility and sustainability

SID students analyze strategies for development and promotion of the rule-of-law in a dynamic academic setting and engage with peers from around the world who possess a range of law, policy and advocacy experience. Students are also encouraged to explore their academic interests by taking courses offered by other UW graduate schools.

Real-world application

The SID LLM program offers students experiential opportunities in development and human rights work through clinical work and externships in partnership with non-governmental organizations. Our clinical partners have included the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking, the Environmental Defender Law Center, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the World Economic Forum, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, Landesa, the Center for Gender and Resource Equity, EarthRights International, UNIDROIT, Heifer International, Global Rights and NewCourse. 

Graduates of this program will be equipped to work within organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, USAID and World Bank, corporations and private consulting firms, human rights organizations, leading non-governmental organizations and active military service focused on the rule of law.

The program is also equipping a new generation of lawyers to work with social entrepreneurs and major corporations to develop sustainable solutions to pressing social problems.


The SID curriculum draws upon the strengths of the UW Law faculty, locally-based practitioners and partner organizations. Courses provide students with both theory and hands-on exposure to development work, particularly in the areas of rule of law, governance and human rights. Skills-building classes also introduce internationally-trained attorneys to U.S. legal practice and help all students strengthen their writing, analysis and presentation skills. Core faculty include professors with expertise in business and human rights, anti-corruption and protecting rights to land and resources for vulnerable communities in the developing world. 

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“As the world moves towards the United Nations’ ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, we need to understand international development more deeply and comprehensively. The SID program helped me to understand development in an engaging and challenging way.”


Indonesia, SID LLM 2017, Assistant Program
Manager, Secretariat of Sustainable Development Goals, Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning

“The quality of the courses and the professors was exceptional and enriched by the perspectives of classmates from throughout the world. I gained the knowledge and tools I needed as a lawyer to collaborate with other development professionals, including at the United Nations.”


Mexico, SID LLM LLM 2018
Intern, United Nations Global Compact

“As an American student, I was able to interact with skilled legal practitioners from around the world. They helped ground my approach to international human rights and development in the experience of impacted people.”


United States, JD, SID LLM 2017
Bertha Legal Fellow, EarthRights International

“During my time as a student, I was transformed. As SID alumni, we are working for international organizations, governments and communities, touching every layer of society and reaching the whole world.”


Kenya, SID LLM and Barer Fellow 2018
Magistrate Judge and Head of Station, Othaya Law Courts

“In the SID program, there were people from every continent, and I think that we have formed bonds that are going to last well into the future. The benefits of the experience are going to follow me for the rest of my life. ”


Australia, SID LLM 2017
Senior Community Lawyer, Fitzroy Legal Service, Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Australia