Immigration Clinic Overview
Since 1979, students of the Immigration Clinic have provided legal representation to aliens in the DC metropolitan area. Students work directly with clients and apply their lawyering skills to defend the rights of aliens in obtaining affirmative asylum benefits and to interpose defensive strategies to prevent removal. Asylum applicants and individuals in deportation and removal proceedings are some of the most vulnerable people in U.S. society. Each student will have the opportunity to represent clients that come from all areas of the world with their own unique stories. In representing clients under the supervision of the clinic director and legal staff, students perform all aspects of case preparation including interviewing and maintaining a relationship with 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 torture, religious persecution, female genital mutilation, sexual orientation, HIV-status, and also have obtained freedom from detention for aliens. Please take a look at past Client Victories to see more information on cases that the GW Immigration Clinic has handled.
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 actually apply these traditional skills in real cases. The clinics offer students the opportunity to step into the shoes of a working attorney and offer one-on-one assistance to clients in need of representation. Furthermore, in the clinical setting students encounter the day-to-day frustrations that accompany the practice of law. Obstinate 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 knowing 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.