Immigration Law Fellow

Emily ArvizuBackground

Class of 2020

Hometown: Cumberland, Maine

Undergrad: Boston College

Major/Minor: Elementary Education/Latin American Studies

What did you do prior to coming to the University of Maine School of Law?

I lived in Chicago for ten years and worked as the director of a family literacy program in an immigrant community on the Southwest side of the city. It was honestly a dream job and I loved working with my students, but after being away from family for ten years, I was ready to come back to Maine.

Maine Law

Why did you choose to attend the University of Maine School of Law?

After going through an immigration process for my husband, I realized that many legal skills were similar to the skills I had developed in my previous career. I was ready to make a career change but was nervous about being a student again after being out of school for so long. When I came to visit, I could tell that Maine Law is a small community and that I wouldn’t be lost in the crowd. I honestly cannot imagine myself at any other school.

What has been most helpful to you in making the adjustment to the life of a Maine Law student?

Having worked full-time for so long, I came in ready to put just as much time and effort in as I would if this were another full-time job. I was accustomed to managing my time and working on long-term projects. That self-discipline was really helpful in making the transition.

As a 1L, how would you describe your experience at Maine Law?

The first year is hard. There’s no way around that. But, more importantly, it is a time of immense intellectual growth. It is truly a privilege to be able to take three years to devote to academics. I remember there were times where I would be talking through something with a friend and just stop and think, “I can’t believe that sentence just came out of me! I had no idea what any of that meant last week.”

What is one thing that has surprised you about Maine Law?

The thing that surprised me most was how accessible the faculty is. I feel like they genuinely want to know me as a person. By stopping in during office hours, I was able to connect with professors who have since connected me with incredible opportunities, like the Laredo Project. Plus, they are just wonderful people. I always leave their offices laughing.

What are you hoping to do after graduation, and how is Maine Law helping you to facilitate that goal?

That is a tough question. Having worked extensively in immigrant communities in the past, I definitely have a passion for immigration law. Maine Law has given me opportunities to get a feel for immigration law through the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic and the Laredo Project. On the other hand, conversations with professors and Maine Law alumni have challenged me to be open-minded and to give myself the space to explore other areas of law as well. Either way, I know I want to stay in Maine and Maine Law has helped me start to build a network for the future.


Are you involved in extracurricular activities, either on or off campus? What are they?

I am a staff member of the Maine Law Review, a co-chair of the Multicultural Law Society, and a research assistant to the incredible Professor Thea Johnson.


What do you like best about Portland?

Obviously the food! My husband is a chef so we love going out and checking out new restaurants.

Portland has a reputation for its vast array of food options. Do you have any favorite restaurants or grocery stores?

Eventide! My husband works there so I might be biased but there is nothing better than a late-night Eventide delivery to the library.


For someone who is considering attending Maine Law, how would you describe the student community here?

There just isn’t that destructive competitiveness that you always hear about in law schools. I’ve found that students here are super supportive of one another and willing to help each other out. Even during reading week, you’ll routinely find students fielding one another’s questions and studying together. As a 1L, some of my closest friends were 3Ls and I was so appreciative of their guidance and patience with my endless questions.

If you could tell a prospective student one thing about Maine Law, what would it be?

Everyone here, from faculty to staff to classmates, is genuinely pulling for you to succeed. Put the time in to your studies, get to know the faculty, and support one another and you’ll be fine.