Sustainable International Development LL.M.

Join lawyers and leaders from around the globe to contribute to a sustainable and resilient future.

UW Law Sustainable International Development Graduate Program

The UW Law Sustainable Development Program trains lawyers to be active problem solvers and leaders. Graduates will leave here prepared to help the world recover from the global pandemic, which threatens the stability of economies worldwide and livelihoods of people across the planet. The program focuses on key subjects in the area of law and policy that will help the private sector, government institutions and civil society, to achieve responsible sustainable growth in the face of challenges to global health, food security, the environment and global trade and supply chains.

UW Law's Sustainable International Development LL.M. 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 Sustainable Development graduate program provides dynamic clinical and externship opportunities in partnership with local and international organizations with six focus areas in:

  • Rule of law, human rights and governance
  • Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030
    Sustainable Development Goals
  • Law as a tool of poverty alleviation
  • Global environmental protections
  • Corporate responsibility and sustainability, business and human rights, ESG
  • Indigenous peoples' rights

Sustainable Development 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

Our experiential learning partners have included the UN Global Compact, 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 Advocacy, Communities First, the Clooney Foundation for Justice, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, among others.

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


The Sustainable Development 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. 

See FULL curriculum


“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, Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2018
Transformational Governance, 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, J.D., Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2017
Staff Attorney, EarthRights International

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


Kenya, Sustainable International Development LL.M. and Barer Fellow 2018
Magistrate Judge and Head of Station, Othaya Law Courts

“In the Sustainable Development 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, Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2017
Senior Community Lawyer, Fitzroy Legal Service, Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Australia

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


Indonesia, Sustainable International Development LL.M. 2017, Assistant Program
Manager, Secretariat of Sustainable Development Goals, Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning