Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

Saturday, September 29, 2018

UDC Law's Immigration & Human Rights Clinic's Pro Se Asylum Filing Workshop with Human Rights First

I write to share with my experiential educator colleagues a fairly recent addition to our work in the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic work at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law).  

On Friday September 28, we had the pleasure of partnering, for a second time, with non-profit Human Rights First(HRF). In Fall 2017, we worked with HRF to serve Central American families fleeing violence and seeking protection in the United States. Building on that success, we decided to do it again this year.

Clinic students and other UDC Law student volunteers met yesterday with 10 asylum-seeking families from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These families were previous detained at one of the nation’s three family detention centers, but were released to pursue their asylum claims while living with family and friends in Maryland. The families are all currently in removal proceedings before the Baltimore immigration court.  None of the families have yet found legal representation for their asylum claims.

In an era of immigration court backlogs, the court in Baltimore, Maryland, has actually has seen the highest increase since the beginning of FY2017 -- a stunning 96% increase in the last year of individuals put into removal proceedings–- doubling the court’s caseload.  Increases have also been dramatic in Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida. As a consequence, the access to counsel gap is severe and many individuals appearing in Baltimore lack legal representation. In the immigration context, although only around 37% of non-detained immigrants are represented, legal representation makes it five times more likelyan individual will be granted relief.

As a small step in trying to address the justice gap, yesterday UDC Law’s Immigration Clinic completed 17 asylum applications total for the 10 families– the families will file these with the court in just a few days. Many of these cases presented complex legal issues, including those past the one-year filing deadline for asylum. While our Clinic lacks the capacity to take on full representation for each of these families, we hope that our work will set them on the right path and enable them to more easily find pro bono or low bono representation for their future hearings.

This work not only benefitted the asylum-seeking families, but our students, requiring them to engage in:

  • Quick rapport building
  • Interviewing survivors of trauma
  • Fact investigation and information gathering
  • Credibility assessment and checking internal consistency with records from previous government interactions
  • Legal drafting and editing to ensure that each application made out a prima facie case for asylum, meeting all required legal elements.
  • Concise, direct writing to communicate a compelling narrative
  • Explaining legal standards in an accessible way
  • Wrestling with recently changed and evolving law, thanks to Attorney General Sessions in Matter of A-B-,for individuals fleeing domestic violence and gang targeting.
  • Address changing facts and emerging details – for example one team started the day thinking they were working with a mother and three teenagers with asylum claims based on the same facts, but as it turned out, one of the teenage boys had been persecuted based on his sexual orientation and another had been recruited by gangs and threatened with death. This team had to deal with very delicate family dynamics around the disclosure of sexual orientation status.

Participants in the workshop included 3L and 4L Immigration Clinic students, 2L students, including several who had served as Clinical Associates as 1Ls in their first year as part of UDC Law’s required community service, and two of whom who participated in our spring 2018 service-learning tripto Berks family detention center in Pennsylvania, an extended clinic student, 1L students, and a UDC 2018 graduate. Clinic Co-Directors Kristina Campbell and Lindsay Harris along with Clinical Instructor Saba Ahmed supervised students working for the day, along with HRF staff attorney Alexander Parcan and Legal Services Coordinator Sugeily Fernandez.  HRF’s two undergraduate interns and social worker were also on hand to assist.

92818 Pro Se Asylum Filing Workshop

Photo above -- Many of the Clinic students and other volunteer students for the day, fresh-faced and ready to work in the morning, along with Professors Campbell & Harris and HRF staff.

Volunteer students are invited to debrief what was an intense, challenging, and at times no doubt emotional day along with students enrolled in the Immigration Clinic during our clinic seminar

Clinicians interested in replicating this program should feel free to be in touch with Professor Lindsay M. Harris. While there are numerous logistical challenges and hurdles, we find this experience well worthwhile and have tips to share. In many ways the day is a preview of what it is like to work in faster-paced legal services setting, contrasted with many traditional law school clinic models where “law in slow motion” may be the norm.  The workshops also provides an opportunity to generate interest in Clinic work and for 1L and 2L students not yet in Clinic to gain hands on experience and insight into an area of law in which many seek to gain exposure. 

We are grateful to UDC Law staff and faculty for their support of this program.

September 29, 2018 in Clinic Students and Graduates, Clinic Victories, Current Affairs, Immigration, New Clinical Programs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trump Administration creates new burdens for Immigration Judges

Clinical Professor Sarah Sherman-Stokes was recently featured in the Washington Post offering her opinion on the devastating impact of new policies on immigration judges. The Trump Administration's stance on undocumented individuals has led to an explosion in the number of cases. Immigration judges already carry exceedingly large dockets, nearly three times the amount of district court judges trying civil cases. These judges are now losing critical training conferences essential to ensuring fair trials for noncitizens.  

The full piece is available here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/immigration-judges-were-always-overworked-now-theyll-be-untrained-too/2017/07/11/e71bb1fa-4c93-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.348ef2c965ee

 

July 11, 2017 in Immigration, New Clinical Faculty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chasing Liberty: The Detention of Central American Families in the United States

On Friday February 3, 2017, UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law will host a day-long conference on the detention of Central American Families in the United States.

The conference will bring together advocates, law students, and academics throughout the nation who have been fighting to end the detention of immigrant families. In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reinstituted an abandoned policy of detaining children and their parents seeking asylum in the United States. Families were first held in Artesia, New Mexico, which was accurately described as a “deportation mill,” and now in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, along with a smaller detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Thousands of children and their mothers have now been held in confinement while their cases are processed, with a small portion of the families held for more than a year.

We will start the day with opening remarks from Professor emeritus, Barbara Hines, followed by a panel tracing the history of family detention and painting a picture of the current detention system. This will be followed by a panel examining the legal and advocacy challenges to the practice of detaining mothers and children, from the Flores case to hunger strikes by the mothers themselves. During lunch, students who have volunteered inside the detention centers from UDC and Lewis & Clark will share their perspectives. After lunch, scholars and advocates will examine the international human rights ramifications of detaining families and of asylum free zones in the United States.  Finally, we will pivot to examine the post-release crisis. How do we ensure adequate representation for asylum-seeking families released from detention? How do we win claims for protection in difficult jurisdictions? We will also examine the lessons learned from the massive national movement built to advocate for detained families and try to replicate our successes in representation in detained and non-detained settings nationwide.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Cecilia Anguiano, Law Student at Lewis & Clark Colle Law School, Portland, Oregon
  • Blaine Bookey, Co-Legal Director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, San Francisco, CA
  • Bridget Cambria, Partner with Cambria & Kline; Founder, ALDEA People’s Center, Reading, Pennsylvania

  • Kristina Campbell, Professor of Law and Jack and Lovell Olender Director, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

  • Dree Collopy, Partner, Benach Collopy LLP, Washington DC

  • Tessa Copeland, Law Student at Lewis & Clark College Law School, Portland, Oregon

  • Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the American Immigration Council

  • Conchita Cruz, Co-Director Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Andrew Free, Law Office of R. Andrew Free, Nashville, Tennessee

  • Lindsay M. Harris, Assistant Professor of Law, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law 

  • Barbara Hines, Emerson Fellow and Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas – Austin

  • Karen Lucas, Associate Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association
·
  • Michelle Mendez, Staff Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc

  • Andrea Meza, Equal Justice Works Fellow & Staff Attorney, RAICES, San Antonio, Texas


  • Lindsay Nash, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Cardozo Law

  • Sarah Paoletti, Practice Professor of Law, Director of Transnational Legal Clinic, Penn Law

  • Swapna Reddy, Co-Director, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Katie Shepherd, former Managing Attorney of the CARA Project and current Legal Fellow at the American Immigration Council

  • Anita Sinha, Assistant Professor of Law, Director of International Human Rights Clinic, American University Washington College of Law.
  • Maureen Sweeney, Associate Professor, Director of Immigration Clinic, University of Maryland Law School

  • Shana Tabak¸ Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgia State University, College of Law and Global Studies Institute

Registration: Please register for the conference here.

All questions should be directed to Assistant Professor of Law, Lindsay M. Harris at Lindsay.harris@udc.edu

January 18, 2017 in Conferences and Meetings, Immigration, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Patient-Physician Relationships as Exemplars for Legal Practice

What can a surgeon teach attorneys about how to lawyer?  In his recent best seller Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Dr. Atul Gawande reflected on different models of physician-patient relationships as he struggled to counsel his own father.  In anticipation of Gawande’s appearance in the Twin Cities last week, I had listened to the audiobook version on my daily bike commute. 

[The sold-out event focused on living as well as we can until the end. More than a book reading, the event was a party of sorts, replete with buffet options as well as the Larry McDonough Jazz Band.  In my last blog, I featured a legal advocate/jazz musician and Larry’s appearance allows another jazz law digression.  Larry, beyond his Dave Brubeck-esque talent at the keyboard, has been a legal aid attorney and an adjunct professor teaching poverty law at University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota.  His current day gig is as pro bono coordinator at Dorsey and Whitney. ]

Gawande’s story telling style intersperses research and observations with patient and family stories, including the hard conversation he had with his physician doctor who faced progressive paralysis from a rare spinal cord tumor.  Gawande’s dad had two surgeons from which to choose.  His dad rejected the first: “[The surgeon] had the air of the renowned professor he was – authoritative, self-certain, and busy with things to do.” [p. 197].  On the other hand,

The Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon, Edward Benzel, exuded no less confidence. But he recognized that my father’s questions came from fear.  So he took time to answer them, even the annoying ones.  Along the way, he probed my father, too.  He said that it sounded like he was more worried about what the operation might do to him than what the tumor would. . . . Benzel had a way of looking at people that let them know he was really looking at them.  He turned his seat away from the computer and planted himself directly in front of them. . . .  Eventually he steered the conversation back to the central issue.  The tumor was worrisome. But now he understood something about my father’s concerns.  He believed my father had time to wait and see how quickly his symptoms changed.  He could hold off on surgery until he felt he needed it. [p. 198].

Benzel’s bedside manner brought to Gawande’s mind an article he’d read in medical school in the 1990s by Ezekiel and Linda Emanuel,  the Four Models of the Physician-Patient Relationship. The four types are nicely abridged in a Cliff Notes chart fashion here.   Gawande summarizes them as follows:

  • Paternalistic (“Guardian”): “[W]e are medical authorities aiming to ensure that patients receive what we believe best for them.” [p. 200]
  • Informative (“Technical Expert”): “It’s the opposite of the paternalistic relationship.  We tell you the facts and figures. The rest is up to you.” [p. 200]
  • Interpretive (“Counselor”): “Here the doctor’s role is to help patients determine what they want.” [p. 201].
  • Deliberative (“Friend or teacher”): “Doctors sometimes have to go farther than just interpreting people’s wishes in order to serve their needs adequately. Wants are fickle.  And everyone has what philosophers call ‘second order desires’ – desires about our desires.  We may wish, for instance, to be less impulsive, more healthy, less controlled by primitive desires like fear or hunger, more faithful to larger goals. . . . We often appreciate clinicians who push us when we make short sighted choices. . . . At some point, therefore, it become not only right but also necessary for a doctor to deliberate with people on their larger goals, to even challenge them to re-think ill-considered priorities and beliefs.” [p. 202]

These models of course bring to mind similar constructs in the legal world: Lawyer-centered (i.e. paternalistic), Client-centered (i.e. informative/interpretive), and Collaborative (broadly speaking, deliberative). G. Nicholas Herman and Jean Carey provide succinct summaries of the lawyering models in A Practical Approach to Client Interviewing, Counseling, and Decision-Making (2009) [pp. 5-11].

Gawande clearly sees the deliberative approach is the gold standard for practice.  But I can think of client situations in the past year in which all four of the models were utilized defensibly.  For instance, in a situation in which a young client in the midst of family conflict expressed a desire to be deported into near certain death rather than to continue with an asylum claim, we employed an old fashioned paternalistic model until the crisis passed, going so far as to have a child advocate (in essence, a guardian ad litem) appointed.  In a very different situation, we use the deliberative friend model with a client we’ve served for years (and whose story I’ve blogged about here). She’s even been the teacher by coming to my class.

Are these models more like outfits or different kinds of surgical garb – each perhaps to be “worn” depending on the situation? Which style/model fits you most comfortably?

September 21, 2015 in Immigration, Teaching and Pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children

I just received a copy of Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children, which was edited by Lourdes Rosado, Associate Director of the Juvenile Law Center, and published by the ABA Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee. The book highlights the key role that children's attorneys can play at defining moments in their lives, including in juvenile dependency and delinquency courts, immigration proceedings, school proceedings, and impact litigation, for example. There is a teaching guide available for the book. The ABA is offering a 20% off discount through June 23 with the discount code LIVES20. The ABA may also be able to offer your students a discount code if you want to use this book in your clinic or another course. It is also expected to be published as an e-book, at a discounted rate. Contact Cathy Krebs at Cathy.krebs@americanbar.org for more information. Here is a description:

"The book Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children demonstrates the critical role that lawyers play in changing the life courses of our most at-risk children. Without legal representation, the children profiled in this book likely would have gone down a path that was detrimental to their safety, their well-being, and ultimately their ability to grow into happy and successful adults. Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children well illustrates the difference that a highly trained and skilled attorney can make in the life of a child in need. Each chapter of the book profiles a real child in a variety of substantive areas that include:
• Child welfare (abuse and neglect)
• Juvenile delinquency
• Special Education
• Runaway and homeless youth
• Immigration
The chapters also include practice tips and checklists, as well as resources for developing the expertise needed to zealously represent children in crisis to achieve the best outcome and ultimately help them grow into happy and successful adults.
The authors of Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children hope to raise awareness about the need for legal representation for children and to encourage and support attorneys who advocate for children."

June 13, 2014 in Books, Children, Immigration, Juvenile Justice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Funding Opportunity for Law School Clinics

Our nation is currently witnessing headlines about the busing of hundreds of unaccompanied children across the Southwest from Texas to Arizona, where they are being warehoused, but there are tens of thousands more unaccompanied children in our nation who are not making headlines.  All need our help.  Tomorrow Gannett is publishing an op-ed I wrote about the need to provide legal representation for these children.  It can be found here

Law school clinics interested in this issue should consider applying for the AmeriCorps grants that the Obama administration announced on Friday to provide legal representation for these and other migrant children who are in similar circumstances (see NYT article).  Information about the grants can be found at this site.  The targeted jurisdictions for the grants are:  Arlington, VA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Bloomington, MN; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; El Paso, TX; Hartford, CT; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Memphis, TN; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

If you need background in preparing your application, an excellent study about these children was just published by UC Hastings with the support of the MacArthur Foundation.  I recently wrote a brief law review article arguing for the appointment of government-funded attorneys and personal representatives to help unaccompanied children navigate the legal labyrinth they face.  If you would like to talk or need help with your application, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You will also find tremendous resources among our our colleagues who are immigration law faculty.  They are a font of knowledge, passion, and commitment.  Good luck!     

June 10, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration, Job Opportunities & Fellowships, Juvenile Justice, New Clinical Programs, Scholarship, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Service-Learning in the Law School Curriculum

In my first post about service-learning, I asked the question: who is serving whom? In this post, I want to reflect on why I think service-learning is important in the law school curriculum, and how it is different from and expands upon the skills and values we teach in law school clinics.

My first experience with service learning was almost twenty years ago, when I was an undergraduate student at Saint Mary's College. As part of our exchange with our neighbor, the University of Notre Dame, I participated in several alternative spring break experiences through Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns. In fact, it was my participation in the Migrant Experiences Seminar as both an undergraduate and as a law student that set me on the path toward immigrant advocacy in my legal career.

Experiential learning generally - and service-learning in particular - has recently gained more traction in the law school curriculum. But what is the specific value of integrating service-learning more fully into the law school experience, and how is it different from other experiential learning opportunities? My UDC-DCSL colleague, Professor Susan Waysdorf - who has written extensively about service-learning in the law school curriculum - describes service-learning as programs that "place primary value on the service contribution and on the humanitarian participation of the students and teachers."

Professor Waysdorf's definition of service-learning resonates with me because it emphasizes the value of service-learning in the law school curriculum not just to our students, but to us as educators, as well. What do we, as teachers, gain by "giving up" our spring break to spend time with our students on these trips? What are we ourselves learning and teaching our students about the skills and values of the legal profession, and how do we distinguish it from what we teach in clinic?

I often describe clinic as a lab - in clinic, our students are able to work on a small number of cases chosen specifically for their pedagogical value, in a controlled environment and under close supervision. In service-learning, the set-up is dramatically different - both students and teachers are taken out of the safety of the clinic environment, and put in a situation where they are required to be vulnerable. Service-learning allows us to learn from those whom we are "serving" in a way that makes the experience powerful and disarming, precisely because of its lack of structure (in comparison to both clinics specifically and the law school curriculum as a whole).

In my final post in this series, I will share some stories of our service-learning experiences on the Arizona/Mexico border, and reflect further on how the addition of such opportunities to the law school curriculum can be profoundly life-changing for both students and teachers.

Recommended Readings:

Teaching the Reflective Approach Within the Service-Learning Model, Laurie Morin and Susan L. Waysdorf, 62 Journal of Legal Education 4 (2013).

Returning to New Orleans: Reflections on the Post-Katrina Recovery, Disaster Relief, and the Struggle for Social Justice, Susan L. Waysdorf, 12 Univ. of the District of Columbia Law Review 3 (2009).

Katrina Disaster Family Law: The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Families and Family Law, Mc-Carthy-Brown and Waysdorf, 42 Indiana Law Review 721 (2009).

May 8, 2014 in Clinic Students and Graduates, Current Affairs, Immigration, Interdisciplinary Programs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)