Every year, as part of the UCLA Law-Sonke Health & Human Rights Fellowship, one to two top African legal practitioners are selected for a fellowship to study in the Master of Laws (LL.M.) programme at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA Law). The fellowship provides specialised training at UCLA Law to top graduates of South African law schools, for careers as impact-oriented public interest lawyers. The fellowship builds the capacity of African lawyers through coursework emphasising human rights, global health, gender, sexuality and lawyering for social change. Upon completing the UCLA Law LL.M, fellows have the opportunity to apply for a year-long fellowship at Sonke.
UCLA-Sonke Fellows who undertake work placements at Sonke are mentored by senior staff and gain experience in a wide range of legal and policy advocacy endeavors. For example, fellows provide legal research, support and advice to Community Action Team (CAT) members and Sonke trainers who monitor GBV cases in the community. This capacity allows Sonke to support GBV cases by identifying gaps in case information that might lead to delays in legal proceedings and court cases.
Fellows also support legal cases in prisons, conduct research and interface with prisoners around human rights abuses and complaints. They can also support legal reform efforts in the decriminalisation of sex work campaign, and support the efforts of the campaign for the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for GBV. Fellows are also encouraged to conduct original research and publish opinion pieces and scholarly journal articles during their work placements.