Real Cases. Real Experience.
“Without exaggeration, the Immigration Clinic has transformed my law school career and changed my life. Working directly with underserved and vulnerable people who desperately needed our help both filled me with purpose and reminded me why I went to law school in the first place, which is frequently easy to forget after 1L year. Practically speaking, the Immigration Clinic provided me with so much lawyering experience and taught me skills (how to write legal and court documents well and persuasively, how to analyze complex legal issues and craft creative legal arguments, how to stand up in a courtroom and fight for my client) that are crucial to every aspect of any future legal career, no matter what law you decide to practice. And working with Barbara Hines and Denise Gilman, the co-directors (and immigration law legends), has been an honor and privilege I can't believe more people don't take advantage of. The Clinic requires a lot of your dedication, time, and hard work, but I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that taking the Immigration Clinic was the best decision of my law school career and one of the best decisions of my life.”
—Amelia Ruiz Fischer, ’12
“Joining the immigration clinic gave me the sense that I had come to law school for the right reasons. For the first time, I felt like not only was I making a difference in the lives of real people, but I was collaborating and learning from others that would remain my colleagues and friends for the rest of my life.”
—Alissa Parsley, ’12
“When I began the Immigration Clinic, I had a strong inclination toward practicing immigration law. Helping people realize their dream of remaining in the U.S. was more rewarding than I could have imagined. I also had to face the harsh reality that, regardless of the outcome of each case, I had to remain as professional and objective to the client as possible. My experience in the Clinic challenged my core beliefs regarding my purpose as an attorney. Yet, when I finished my third semester in the Clinic I was certain that I wanted to practice immigration law.”
—Keneshia Washington, ’10
“The Immigration Clinic places students at the epicenter of the fight for human rights in the U.S.. Part of the Clinic's work is done at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a prison for immigrant women run by the Corrections Corporation of America. Many of the women at Hutto are asylum seekers who have suffered severe domestic violence and untold brutality in their home countries. Rather than offering a safe haven for these women, the US government locks them up in a former medium security prison. The Clinic gives students the opportunity to face injustice like this head-on while being guided by two of the country's most venerated immigration legal minds, Professors Barbara Hines and Denise Gilman.
“During my time at the Clinic, I worked on a range of cases that covered a variety of legal issues. The courtroom experience and close client contact allowed me to develop my skills as a new lawyer and taught me that good lawyering and compassion are not mutually exclusive, but instead are essential to becoming an effective advocate. I have become a better lawyer and a better human being because of my time at the Clinic.”
—Stephanie Kolmar, ’10
“The Immigration Clinic is a place where you make good friends while doing good work.
I can't think of a better way to have launched my law career than to have started as a Fellow with the UT Immigration Clinic. At the Clinic you learn how to practice immigration law with some of the best immigration lawyers in the country. The Immigration Clinic not only teaches superb practice skills, it also teaches ethical and compassionate lawyering.”
—Frances Valdez, ’05, Clinical Fellow, ’05-’07
“The clinic changed my life. When I went to law school I wanted to do policy work for a human rights organization. The clinic gave me an opportunity to have clients and make a difference in someone's life. I learned that was something I enjoyed doing and for the first time thought about being a practicing lawyer. When I started my first job out of law school, I had experience in immigration court and was able to take cases and build on my knowledge from the clinic. Clinical programs are the best way to learn how to practice law and UT's immigration clinic gives students the opportunity to do so while working with Barbara Hines, one of the country's leading immigration attorneys. I am currently the Human Trafficking Team Manager at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, and my experience in the clinic is a big part of what brought me to this work.”
—Erica Schommer, ’03
“The UT Immigration Clinic is a great place to gain litigation experience. Over the course of the semester, my team of student attorneys handled a client's asylum case from start to finish. We met and interviewed the client at Hutto just days after she was detained, assessed her asylum claim and wrote her application, took affidavits from witnesses, compiled documentation and evidence, wrote a brief to support her claim, and at the end of the semester, took her case to trial before an immigration judge.
I now work at a not-for-profit in New York representing immigrant clients in unpaid wage and hour litigation. Although I do not practice in immigration court, my time in the Clinic gave me invaluable courtroom skills and experience working with clients who are unfamiliar with the American legal system. I think that the Clinic is an essential stepping-stone for students who plan to represent immigrant clients in any forum.”
—Elizabeth Wagoner, ’07
“Taking the Immigration Clinic has been one of the most rewarding and formative experiences I have had during my time in law school. I have enjoyed the opportunity to represent multiple clients in the courtroom, hone my writing skills, learn about federal litigation, and meet and hear the stories of immigrants from all over the world. The skills and perspective I have gained through the Immigration Clinic experience have helped to prepare me for my work at Fulbright & Jaworski upon graduation and for the legal profession more generally. Additionally, I have met people and professionals through the clinic with whom I will remain friends for many years to come. ”
—Elise Harriger, ’08
“While most Immigration Clinic students visit detention centers and directly interview and advise immigrants regarding their rights and options for release, we never feel that we are unprepared for our duties. Professor Hines and Professor Gilman hold biweekly classes that teach students the essentials of immigration law as it applies to detainees and other immigrants. Outside of class, they spend one-on-one time with students each week to answer complex questions and provide guidance on our caseload. The most important trait or skills that one needs is compassion for individuals who never had the opportunity to go to law school.
For me, the best moments in the Immigration Clinic are those that you spend at an immigration detention facility waiting for your client to be released. It does not matter if you spent a few hours preparing for a bond hearing or long and busy weeks preparing for an immigration hearing. When you see your client walking out of prison, saved from deportation, you know that it was all worth it.
I’m looking forward to putting the knowledge and skills I obtained in the Immigration Clinic to use upon graduation from law school. I have accepted a position with the Executive office for Immigration Review (the Immigration Courts) through the Department of Justice Honors Program.”
—Matt Pizzo, ’08
“I participated in the Immigration Clinic for two semesters and would highly recommend the clinic to anyone interested in getting court experience and in working with clients. For me, taking the Immigration Clinic has changed the trajectory of my career path. I loved the experience so much that I pursued a career in immigration law and received an Equal Justice Works fellowship to continue this work for two years following graduation.
In my time with the clinic, I handled two asylum cases from beginning to end. Barbara Hines and Denise Gilman are excellent mentors and help guide you through the process, while allowing you to take your own responsibility for your case. I met repeatedly with my clients, developed a case strategy, went to court several times leading up the final hearing, and represented my clients in court in both of their final hearings. When my clients received asylum, I felt proud and fulfilled. While at the clinic, I also helped create a pro se information packet for detained families at Hutto and assisted with the Hutto federal court litigation and follow-up to the litigation settlement.
I have made close friendships with other clinic students, and have formed a bond with the professors. My law school experience is a positive one in huge part due to my participation in this amazing clinic.”
—Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, ’08