Immigration Clinic Overview
Since 1979, students of the Immigration Clinic have provided legal representation to aliens in the DC metropolitan area, applying their lawyering skills to defend the rights of aliens in obtaining affirmative benefits and to interpose defensive strategies to prevent removal. Some of the most vulnerable persons in U.S. society, clients include asylum applicants and individuals in deportation and removal proceedings for a variety of reasons. In representing clients under the supervision of the clinic director, students perform all aspects of case preparation including interviewing clients, writing pleadings, appearing in Immigration Court, and managing post-relief issues. Clinic students also assist their clients in overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers that could impede their clients’ success in the U.S. legal system. GW Law students have won cases involving issues like female genital mutilation, sexual orientation, torture, HIV-status, and also have obtained freedom from detention for aliens.
Although there are places within the Law School where students can learn the fundamentals of lawyering such as direct examinations, brief writing, and oral arguments, only in clinics will a student learn these traditional skills and actually apply them in real cases. Further, in the clinical setting students encounter the day-to-day frustrations that accompany the practice of law. Recalcitrant clients, surly court personnel, uncooperative witnesses–these are common in everyday practice. Students who have been diligent in their clinic duties will head into practice with the advantage of having dealt with these frustrations and know how to work around them.
The Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics were founded in 1971, and were dedicated in 1991 to acknowledge the generous support of Jacob Burns (LL.B. '24, LL.D. '70). Burns was renowned for his philanthropy, through which he "contributed significantly to the expanding boundaries of knowledge," and left an enduring legacy that improves the lives of many today.