Choosing The Right Law School for an Immigration Law Career
In the ever-changing field of immigration law, attorneys serve as interpreters, enforcers and advocates. Immigration law offers a broad range of areas including employment, education, human rights and family law. As a result, the field has become an increasingly attractive option for aspiring law students looking to make a difference in the immigration field.
Sound like a fit for you? US News recently reported three factors prospective applicants should consider when choosing a law school for a career in immigration law.
1.) Clinical Work
Clinical programs can expose students to the variety of legal issues that are prevalent in immigration law. In particular, students should consider a law school’s location to determine the type of immigration-focused programs available. For instance, according to US News, border states like California and Texas will have larger immigrant populations and, as a result, the resources for pertinent immigration issues. For instance, the University of Texas—Austin offers an immigration clinic that “help with asylum applications, U visas for victims of domestic violence, citizenship claims and deportation proceedings.” Having direct experience through clinical work demonstrates marketable skills to a career in immigration law.
2.) Concentrations and Certificates
In addition to seeking clinical work in an immigration law program, applicants should consider specific concentrations and certificates that programs can offer. For example, the University of Virginia’s Immigration Law program offers students the opportunity to partake in community service and pro bono projects. Projects, such as University of Virginia’s Hunton & Williams Pro Bono Partnership, allow students to work pro bono with Hunton & Williams’ attorneys to “represent indigent clients in the areas of immigration, asylum and family law.” At the University of California-Davis School of Law, students who complete course requirements and a related immigration law research paper are awarded an Immigration Law Certificate. Such concentrations and certificates offer stepping-stones and open doors into an immigration law career.
3.) Avoid an Immigration Story Personal Statement
Understanding and having a personal connection to immigration law holds a certain validity to applicants interested in entering the field. However, as US News explains, applicants should be careful about focusing their personal statement solely on their own immigration story. Rather than simply narrate your immigration story, “highlight any academic, professional or extracurricular experiences you have gained that enrich your understanding of immigrant life.” Going beyond personal anecdotes to demonstrate an awareness of how you will use your J.D. to advance certain immigration issues
Source: US News, University of Texas-Austin, University of Virginia, University of Davis School of Law