The Student Experience


The Immigrants' Rights Clinic offers a collaborative learning environment between students, faculty and staff. Students learn litigation and courtroom skills, engage with individual clients and receive mentoring from experienced litigators.

Litigation and Courtroom Skills

Litigation and Courtroom Skills 7

  • Develop Factual Evidence to Support Your Client’s Case—Students interview witnesses, meet with their client, and develop documentary evidence.
  • Creative Legal Research—Students grapple with federal and agency cases, statute, and regulations to develop cutting-edge arguments supporting their client’s claim to stay in the United States.
  • Argue Motions and Conduct Mini-Trials—Students argue complex legal motions, conduct direct examination of witnesses, and defend against cross-examination of government witnesses.
  • Interview and Counsel—Students interview and work in partnership with their clients to assess the client’s options and prepare the strongest case.
  • Write Briefs and Argue Appeals—Students write appellate briefs before the Board of Immigration Appeals, and write briefs and argue before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Engagement With Individual Clients

Counseling means researching the law, identifying options, explaining the choices, and working together with clients to make critical decisions.

  • Client Interview Preparation- Develop key client interviewing skills through interview workshops and mock interviews with fellow students. Receive feedback from professors and peers during debriefing sessions. .
  • Interview Clients and Witnesses- Meet with clients and witnesses-including expert witnesses– to obtain key information and facts to prepare and support your client’s case.
  • Establish rapport- Learn and practice the importance of building rapport, trust, and a strong attorney-client relationship. Students are the primary point of contact for their clients, and typically engage with clients on a regular basis throughout the quarter.
  • Counsel and Advise Your Client- With guidance from professors, students analyze and discuss best options for avoiding deportation with their client.

The Student Experience

Collaborative Supervision and Mentoring

IRC: Collaborative Supervision and Mentoring 1

Learning and Feedback in Clinic

  • PREPARE: Students in the clinic start by preparing—for example, to write a brief, conduct a witness meeting, or argue a case. They often prepare several drafts of briefs or hearing outlines. While preparing, students learn from supervisors, their peers, and their clients.
  • DO: Students then do: they conduct the hearing, or file the brief.
  • REFLECT: Afterward, they reflect: what went as expected, and what were the surprises?
  • REVISE: Finally, they revise: what changes in preparation would they make next time? How can they learn from their experience?

What Faculty and Students Are Saying

Jillian Katterhagen, JD ’18

"I thought the interview moot in particular was especially useful in forcing me to test strategies for how I would respond to certain questions in the moment. Playing a client during the interview moot was also hugely beneficial. Getting into role as a client made me much more aware of how important it would be to think about how a client’s experiences will affect their conduct during an interview."

Lisa Weissman-Ward, Clinical Supervising Attorney, Immigrants' Rights Clinic

"Our priority is mentoring students. We work closely with them so that they can realize their full potential as young lawyers. Throughout, we see ourselves as a supportive coaches."

Jayashri Srikantiah, Director, Immigrants' Rights Clinic

"My role is to help students develop their judgment as lawyers. Clinic is not only about feedback on writing, research, argument, and other lawyering skills. It is also about learning about what kind of lawyer you want to be."

Sam Pokross, JD ’18

"The [client] meeting was an important step in my development as a lawyer because it was the first real client interview that I’ve ever taken the lead on […] It was very rewarding to be able to plan for an interview and have it go successfully."

Alexa Graumlich, JD '17

"It was nice to have an immediate impact on people and make one part of this long process a little easier."