The Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Clinic (IRAC) offers students the opportunity to represent, under the supervision of a clinic attorney, low-income immigrant and refugee clients living in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. IRAC assists clients with immigration matters as well as related civil matters that affect or relate to the client’s immigration or refugee status. Our clients include adults as well as unaccompanied minors. Students eligible for certification under court Student Practice rules may have the opportunity to present their clients’ cases in court and all students are eligible to advocate on behalf of clients with local and federal administrative agencies. Students also participate in limited legal assistance projects or policy reform initiatives. The classroom component of the course includes participatory exercises in interviewing, fact investigation, counseling, negotiation, trial skills, and structured discussion of legal ethics, case law, and statutory developments.

Course Learning Objectives

During the course of the semester IRAC students will:

  • Acquire and apply doctrinal knowledge in administrative law, professional responsibility, immigration law, and possibly one other specialized area of poverty law (family, employment, and/or public benefits law)
  • Develop professional judgment and problem-solving skills through supervised representation of clients in high-stakes litigation and administrative matters.
  • Develop practice skills such as interviewing, fact investigation, counseling, negotiation, and/or pre-trial/trial advocacy.
  • Strengthen legal research, legal reasoning, statutory construction, and writing skills through the drafting of pleadings, applications, declarations, and/or memoranda.
  • Identify ethical issues and apply the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct to resolve professional responsibility questions.
  • Use reflective lawyering to critique and improve individual and team performance.
  • Develop office management and collaboration skills through teamed representation and primary responsibility for case file maintenance.
  • Enhance understanding of the constraints on access to justice for low-income D.C. residents and strengthen the commitment to pro bono representation.

Student Office Hours

Each student will set a schedule of regular weekly office hours. If you have to modify your hours, please let Marissa Chevalier know. If you need to consult with me outside of our scheduled weekly meeting time, you may send me an e-mail to schedule a time. In addition, you may come to my office at any time and, if I am available, I will gladly meet with you.

Hours Spent on Clinic Work

Students enrolled for six credits must spend a minimum of 20 hours per week working at the clinic. Students enrolled for four credits must spend a minimum of 13 hours per week. Three (or more depending on the week) of the hours will be spent attending a weekly seminar class that focuses on skill building, professional responsibility, and substantive law.

Supervision Meetings

At least once a week, I will meet with each student team to discuss the cases you are handling. Attendance at these weekly meetings is required, and your preparation for and participation in these sessions will be among the factors considered in your grade. Each team will be responsible for developing the agenda for the meeting. After all students have submitted their availability, we will set up a schedule for these weekly meetings.

Community Outreach Project

Students will participate in a Limited Assistance/Community Outreach Project during the course of the semester.