The Catholic University of America

Immigration Litigation Clinic

Academic Banner

The Immigration Litigation Clinic (ILC) is a six-credit, year-long course that provides eligible students with intensive exposure to immigration litigation practice through a combination of actual trial practice and classroom work.  By representing indigent, noncitizen clients before the U.S. immigration courts, ILC students gain hands-on experience and develop lawyering skills, while learning the substantive contours of immigration law, specifically removal proceedings, asylum, and other forms of relief from removal.

Under the supervision of experienced immigration attorneys, ILC students represent noncitizens who have been placed in removal proceedings, assisting them in seeking relief from removal so they may remain in the United States, preserving family unity and keeping them safe from persecution and torture.  ILC students work in teams of two, each of which is assigned a complex matter.  They have full responsibility for every aspect of their cases.  Through this experience, students are able to refine writing and research skills, develop effective trial techniques and other lawyering skills, and learn what it is like to be a practicing attorney. 

Through the direct representation of individual clients, ILC students learn the skills essential to any litigation practice, immigration or otherwise.  Under the supervision of experienced immigration litigators, and in partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, students will interview clients, analyze clients’ options for relief, draft sworn declarations, identify and gather evidence and supporting documentation, complete legal research, write briefs, prepare witnesses for direct and cross examination, conduct direct examinations in immigration court, object to evidence presented and to questions and answers sought in immigration court, present opening and closing statements in immigration court, and learn other direct service and trial-related skills.  ILC students will learn these skills through the lens of immigration law and litigation practice before the U.S. immigration courts in Arlington, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland. 

ILC students attend two classes per week.  The class seminars consist of lecture, discussion, participatory exercises, and simulations that cover a variety of topics in immigration law, litigation practice, and professional responsibility. The students then apply those lessons to their clients’ actual cases, meeting with their clients, gathering evidence, conducting legal research, writing declarations and briefs, and preparing witnesses.  While the seminar classes are held at the Columbus School of Law, students meet with their clients and work substantively on their cases at the Immigration Legal Services office of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. 

Throughout the year, students may consult with their supervisors as needed, but must complete several pre or post-class case meetings with their supervisors as a requirement for the course.  Also, students are provided numerous opportunities to share their insights about their cases and experiences, to strategize and collaborate, and to develop advocacy and litigation skills.  The fall semester focuses on client interaction and interviewing, as well as declaration drafting, evidence gathering, and legal research, while the spring semester focuses on brief writing, preparing witnesses, direct and cross examination, opening and closing statements, objections, and other trial-related skills.  The course culminates in the students’ representation of their clients before the Baltimore and Arlington Immigration Courts.

The ILC is open to second, third, and fourth year students who have already taken Immigration Law or who are enrolled in Immigration Law in the fall semester.  Students earn six credits (three credits per semester) and must commit to approximately 15-20 hours of work per week (including their twice-weekly class meetings, supervisory case meetings, and substantive casework).  Additionally, students must commit to the full year for this course.  The course is graded; students receive a mid-year evaluation at the end of the fall semester and a final grade at the end of the spring semester. 

Up to ten students are accepted into this course.  Students who want to enroll should fill out the pre-registration form, which is on the law school website or can be picked up from Janaye Guinn in the Office of Student Affairs-Rm. 343. The pre-registration form should be submitted to Janaye Guinn, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Experiential Curriculum no later than April 7, 2015 by 5pm.

Next, once the pre-registration process is complete and admission has been decided, the selected students will be contacted by the Registrar, Stuart Schept, and given registration access within Cardinal Station. 


>Immigration Clinic Pre-Registration Form


Read more about the clinic's work in this recent blog post from Catholic Charities. (Photo above left courtesy of Catholic Charities).


Need help? For information and intake locations, please contact Immigration Legal Services Office, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.


Phone 202-772-4356