MSU College of Law

Information for Students

The Immigration Law Clinic engages students with immigrant communities through direct client representation and systemic advocacy for vulnerable populations that are otherwise unable to obtain legal representation. The Immigration Clinic provides opportunities for students to experience the practice of law in a well-supervised and academically rigorous program that both prepares them for the practice of law and enables them to critically assess social justice issues. Students learn while being actively engaged as important community resources.

Client Representation

The direct representation of individual clients and families is at the center of the Immigration Clinic experience. Immigration matters are compelling and engage students in sophisticated legal analysis and advocacy, unparalleled procedural complexities and rich client interactions. The clinic takes a diverse range of cases, with attention to pedagogical concerns, community need, and impact. Students may represent clients in administrative proceedings, Immigration Court, and federal and state courts. Some students may work in appellate and amici capacities, while others may engage in regulatory and legislative reform efforts. The clinic is purposefully diverse, exposing students to the broad reach of immigration law into a vast array of legal systems and social institutions. Immigration law presents unparalleled complexities and rich client interactions. In problem solving with their clients, students will be challenged to integrate demanding legal analysis with sophisticated community advocacy.

Policy Advocacy

While important, individual client representation in the context of immigration law is incomplete. As students develop expertise with the various systems with which our clients interact, they also undertake efforts at systemic reform. For example, students may analyze the application of immigration-related restrictions to the availability of state benefits and advocate for reforms. They may need to create protocols with state and local law enforcement agencies to obtain certifications required to obtain federal immigration relief available for victims of crimes.

Resource Development

Immigration law and policy is in constant flux, and immigrant communities are in perpetual need of credible information sources to counteract scams and other efforts to exploit its desperation and vulnerabilities. A key role of students is to develop the clinic as a trusted community information source. A deep understanding of the complexities and nuances of immigration law is needed for students to develop resources that are accurate yet accessible.

Community Outreach and Education

Information and resources are of little value unless they reach target populations. Through community outreach and education, students provide valuable service while developing a better understanding of immigrant communities and how that relates to their individual client matters.

Program Structure, Curriculum, and Credit Hours

The Immigration Clinic is a one-semester course for six credits open to second- and third-year law students. In addition to client representation and outreach, students participate in a clinic seminar that meets twice a week. Seminar classes are of two basic types: topical and case round. Topical classes focus on particular substantive law, procedure, policy or lawyering issues, and generally encompass discussion of assigned reading and/or in-class exercises designed to highlight the designated issue. Case round classes are less structured, but no less important. They are an opportunity to respond to legal, ethical, or policy issues that are arising in students' case work. Case rounds may focus on a single aspect of a case that raises a particularly interesting or troubling issue, or they may focus on many issues.

Law student participation is governed by an application process in which students will be afforded an opportunity to discuss their interests, goals, commitments, and potential conflicts with professors prior to enrollment. The Immigration Clinic can accommodate approximately 10 to 12 students per semester. Students are expected to work a minimum of 18 hours per week outside the seminar classes.