The Refugee and Immigrant Rights Litigation Clinic is a two-semester, eight-credit clinic open to five second- and third-year students who want to explore how international human rights and refugee protection law intersect with domestic immigration law and policy in the courtroom. Preference is given to students who demonstrate an interest or commitment to the public interest, immigration law, or international law. Language proficiency and prior immigration law coursework is helpful, but not required.
The Clinic consists of a practice and a seminar component. As part of the practice component, students spend 13 hours a week working on cases at Catholic Charities, in the field or at administrative or court proceedings. Typically, during the course of the year, each student takes two litigation matters from intake/initial preparation to litigation. Students also each receive about five to six other matters, which may involve the preparation and submission of an administrative application, research and writing on a case issue, or participation in a program component. In this way, they quickly become responsible for clients and for making independent decisions. Students in the Clinic work in teams as well, to handle a case, group of cases, or a particular outreach or informational project.
The two-hour seminar class meets weekly at the Law School. In the seminar, students learn and develop essential lawyering skills required in client representation, explore substantive areas of immigration law, participate in roundtable discussions, and hear from experts in the field, including judges and practitioners. The lawyering skills classes cover interviewing, cross-cultural lawyering, case theory and strategy, fact investigation, use of and preparation of experts, and direct and cross-examination. During the roundtable discussions, students present client cases, identifying particular complex legal, factual, or strategy issues for group examination.