Immigration Appeals Practicum


Continuing its commitment to provide students with optimum, hands-on training in specialized areas of law, Southwestern established the Immigration Appeals Practicum (IAP) with the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP (MTO). Students selected for this practicum work closely with MTO attorneys to represent pro bono clients in appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), providing students with a rigorous and immersive experience in practice-oriented written legal analysis on cases that raise complex legal questions.

The program is beneficial for all involved. While students and attorneys help clients who lack financial resources to deal with complicated legal problems, they also have the opportunity to hone their craft while working on incredibly challenging and interesting legal issues.

Each student is paired with an MTO attorney and assigned a BIA appellate brief that must be completed before the end of the semester. Students conduct research, outline the arguments and collaborate with the supervising attorney to draft the brief. The attorney then works with the student to refine and perfect it, followed by filing the brief with the BIA. Up to three students are selected for the practicum each semester, and they earn three units of ungraded externship credit.

Professor Andrea Ramos, Director of the Immigration Law Clinic, serves as advisor for the students and supervising attorneys as they prepare briefs. They also work together to select appropriate BIA cases for the practicum; cases are secured through the BIA's Pro Bono Project, which was created to increase pro bono representation for individuals detained by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement with immigration cases under appeal. 

Those who wish to participate must have demonstrated an interest in immigration and appellate law, a strong academic record and proven writing ability. Interested students must submit an Immigration Appeals Practicum application, resume and writing sample to Professor Andrea Ramos. Applications are available in the Legal Clinic in W408 and on the Portal (log-in required).