In the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, student serve as the attorneys assisting low-income immigrants through a broad range of cases and projects. The Clinic enrolls approximately 6-8 students a semester who earn six credit hours upon successful completion of the course. Students receive close guidance throughout the course under the supervision of Clinical Professor Anna Welch, who formerly taught at the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.
The course targets a critical gap in access to justice – providing direct legal representation and broader advocacy to immigrants and refugees seeking political asylum and similar protections under federal law, while training future attorneys on how to best serve the legal needs of immigrants. Clients include, for example, asylum applicants who have fled human rights abuses in their home countries and are seeking refuge, immigrant survivors of domestic violence, and abandoned or abused children seeking legal status in the U.S.
Under faculty supervision, student attorneys not only develop their substantive knowledge of immigration law and human rights laws and norms, but they also build core legal skills relevant to the general practice of law. Clinical work for students includes: interviewing clients and witnesses and preparing testimony, working with interpreters and translators, conducting factual and legal investigation and marshaling of evidence, analyzing and presenting human rights documentation, developing case strategies, writing legal briefs, and appearing in administrative hearings. Students also have opportunities to collaborate with local nonprofit organizations and community groups on a range of advocacy projects.
Student Impact Summit
On March 22, 2018, Joann Bautista ’18 and Greta Lozada ’18 presented on their project, “Latino Outreach in the City of Portland,” during Maine Law’s annual Student Impact Summit. Over the last decade, Portland has received an influx of residents from all across the globe. Joann, Greta, and other RHRC students looked at ways to meet the needs of Latinos in Portland, legal or otherwise. As a result of their research, the students collaborated with legal providers in Portland to put on “Know Your Rights” presentations geared to the Latino Community. A video of their presentation is available on Maine Law’s YouTube channel.