Erica Rodriguez, J.D. ‘11
What did you like about the Immigration Clinic and what did you learn that may be relevant to your work now?
The best thing about the immigration clinic is the high level of responsibility given to you. On the first day, you're given a list of clients and told to read through their file as soon as possible. After reading the entire file, you call the client and introduce yourself. Although overwhelming at first, there is simply nothing like having real clients who depend on you. This sense of responsibility and the attention to detail you must put into your cases is extraordinary, especially with immigration law where interpretation of statutes can turn on a word. This is heightened by the high stakes of immigration law practice, where clients are extremely vulnerable and face removal if you’re not successful.
In addition, the high demands of clinical practice instilled in me a strong work ethic. In my experience, most former students say the clinics were the best thing to help prepare for their legal careers following graduation. Practicing law is a constant learning process, but the immigration clinic gave me the best possible foundation upon which I can now build.
When I interviewed with the Department of Justice for my position as a Judicial Law Clerk with the Executive Office of Immigration Review, my clinical experiences were invaluable. I was able to draw on my experiences during the interview to show my passion and knowledge of immigration law. Specifically, I was able to point to a particularly tough individual calendar hearing during my second week of immigration clinic, where I had to familiarize myself to newly discovered facts and be prepared to answer tough questions from the immigration judge.
Please provide some information about where you currently work.
In September of 2011 I began a two year clerkship at the Immigration Court in Los Angeles, the largest immigration court in the country. This attorney position requires a high level of skill in research and writing, and familiarity with immigration law. Immigration courts handle removal proceedings exclusively, but the variety of issues that can arise is endless. I'm looking forward to applying the skills and knowledge I gained from the immigration clinic in my new position.