The Clinic Program: Combining Legal Education and Client Service
The Asylum and Human Rights Clinic is an intensive, nine-credit program, in which students
- Obtain extensive experience working with a client, strengthening their interviewing and counseling skills;
- Gain cross-cultural sensitivity, learning to communicate effectively across differences of language and culture;
- Conduct intensive legal research in a rapidly-evolving area of law, and learn about human rights conditions in the client’s home country;
- Thoroughly investigate the facts, locate corroborating evidence, and organize the supporting evidence into a persuasive package;
- Work with expert witnesses, including country conditions experts, physicians and mental health professionals;
- Draft numerous case documents, including an asylum application, client and witness affidavits, and a legal brief;
- Present evidence, testimony and arguments at a hearing before the United States Immigration Court or the Asylum Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
There are three major facets of the Clinic program: casework, case team meetings, and seminars. The casework is central. Students, working together in teams of two, typically spend a minimum of 30 hours per week working on their clients' cases. Each student team meets at least once a week with a faculty advisor for an in-depth discussion of the casework. These meetings are used to help students recognize, analyze and resolve the multitude of strategic, tactical, ethical, and interpersonal issues that arise in representing clients. Clinic students and faculty, together with clients and witnesses, also participate in "mootings" to prepare for each hearing.
The Asylum Clinic seminar meets once a week, for three hours. Classes are used for a variety of purposes. Early in the semester, a few classes are used to survey the substantive law involved in Clinic cases. Other classes are devoted to teaching essential lawyering skills that students will use in their casework; many of these classes involve role-playing exercises or workshops based on students' actual cases. Class time is also used for "case rounds," in which students share and learn from each other's experiences.