SWLAW Blog | Future Students

Asylum Law Legal Clinic group photo

May 30, 2024

Southwestern Law School Collaborates with Los Angeles LGBT Center to Launch Legal Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ Asylum Seekers

A New Initiative to Equip Law Students with Skills to Advocate for Vulnerable Asylum Seekers. 

LOS ANGELES, CA — Amid tightening U.S. immigration policies, many LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers face daunting challenges. To provide critical legal support, Southwestern Law School is working with the Los Angeles LGBT Center to launch the Asylum Law Clinic, empowering the next generation of lawyers to dismantle barriers to asylum. 

"The Asylum Law Clinic is a huge step in training law students to advocate effectively for marginalized groups," said Andrea Ramos, Director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Southwestern. "Our curriculum emphasizes both the knowledge and compassion needed for impactful legal representation and advocacy." 

Launching in the Fall 2024 semester, the clinic will begin with four students who will assist with asylum applications and other legal matters, including employment authorization documents, travel permits, DACA applications, and adjustment of status applications for those granted asylum. 

"Our primary goals are to empower students and integrate trauma-informed community lawyering into their practice," explained Tess Feldman, Los Angeles LGBT Center attorney and instructor for the Asylum Law Clinic. "By the end of the program, students will be ready to represent asylum seekers before immigration judges and asylum officers across the United States." 

The collaboration was initiated by Southwestern Professor John Heilman, who has a long history of connecting his students with the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Legal Services Department. "When Professor Heilman reached out, we saw an opportunity to positively impact the legal and personal outcomes for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers," remarked Feldman. 

In the face of systemic barriers, LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers now have a powerful ally. Through this clinic, Southwestern Law School and the Los Angeles LGBT Center are providing robust legal defense and creating invaluable educational experiences for law students.  

About the Los Angeles LGBT Center: 

Since 1969, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today, the Center’s nearly 800 employees provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, offering programs, services, and global advocacy that span four broad categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy. We are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world; a world in which LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society. Learn more at lalgbtcenter.org.  

About Southwestern Law School: 

Since 1911, Southwestern Law School has been at the forefront of legal education, shaping the next generation of lawyers and advocates. Dedicated to promoting inclusion, equity, and justice, Southwestern empowers students to reach their potential and serve society with excellence.