Students must register for both 397C and 397D for a total of 6 hrs.
Students in this clinic will represent low-income transnational migrant workers in the Austin area in cases recovering unpaid wages for work performed, and will engage in related advocacy projects asserting the rights of low-wage workers here and abroad. The Clinic gives students hands-on experience with civil litigation, basic employment law, public interest practice, and the emerging field of transnational migrant worker rights. The Clinic seeks to draw the links between advocacy for the employment rights of transnational workers laboring in Central Texas and advocacy for the labor and human rights of low- wage working people around the globe.
Clinic students will serve as lead legal counsel representing and advising migrant worker clients in active wage rights litigation, administrative actions, community-based enforcement strategies, and wage claims filed for criminal prosecution as theft of wages. Depending on the requirements of each case, students will: interview and advise clients; investigate cases and develop case strategy; negotiate with opposing parties and lawyers; initiate and manage active litigation; prepare legal documents including pleadings, motions, and discovery; research legal issues; and represent clients in court proceedings. The clinic's legal advocacy is based on a community-lawyering model which seeks to accomplish more than just winning individual cases; the clinic also aims to promote systemic reforms that make the justice system more fair for transnational workers and to empower clients with the knowledge, skills, and collective capacity through which they can advance their own employment rights. In addition the clinic seeks to ground each student's particular casework within the larger context of contemporary transnational and international labor rights advocacy in global labor market.
Bill Beardall, the clinical instructor, is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Center, the former Director of the Migrant Worker Division of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid anda widely-recognized expert on low-wage employment rights. He has 30 years of experience representing migrant workers and training new employment litigation lawyers.
The casework component is conducted in collaboration with the Equal Justice Center, a non-profit public-interest law center, based in Austin, which advocates for the rights of low-income workers. The clinic requires students to devote substantial time each week to handling cases, including scheduled office hours at the Equal Justice Center office in South Austin and frequent conferences with clients as needed. During the first week of the course, students will receive an intensive orientation in employment law and practice before starting their casework assignments. The classroom component of the clinic will meet once a week for two hours. The classroom work will place the employment rights of transnational workers in a broader, interdisciplinary framework of evolving national and international labor and human rights advocacy. Instruction will address the challenges of adapting U.S. and international law and legal practice to our increasingly transnational labor market. Subtopics include: U.S. and international immigration and labor policy; wage laws and contract law as they affect transnational workers; the tension between immigration laws and labor rights; rights of transnational "guest workers"; civil litigation and representation skills specific to transnational worker cases; freedom of association and the right to organize; ethical issues in employment rights representation; community-based legal strategies and civic participation rights; international labor and human rights standards; and evolving domestic and international mechanisms for the enforcement of worker rights. The clinic is open to students who have completed the first year of law school. While there are no prerequisites, students will benefit from previous course work or experience relating to employment law, immigration law, international law, human rights law, low-wage working people, migrant workers or immigrant communities, and experience in or regarding Latin American communities. Most clinic clients are Spanish-speakers from a variety of Latin American countries. Spanish proficiency accordingly is preferred, but is not required.
Questions about the clinic may be directed to Bill Beardall at email@example.com. Please put "Worker Rights Clinic" in the subject line of any communication.
This clinic has been established through a generous grant from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.