About the Clinic
The Refugee and Human Rights Clinic (RHRC) provides students with the opportunity to perform hands-on work in both domestic and international aspects of refugee and human rights law, while developing the critical advocacy skills of strategizing, research, analysis, and writing. We also emphasize collaboration and reflection. Student cases span a wide range of work, from direct representation of asylum applicants to intensive research into international human rights issues.
Clinical students have the opportunity to work on projects with leading refugee and human rights organizations as well. For example, the RHRC has a close relationship with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), which works to advance women’s human rights by focusing on gender-based asylum law and broader migration policies, both in the U.S. and internationally. As one of the nation’s leading refugee advocacy organizations, CGRS engages in impact litigation, national policy advocacy, and other strategies in defense of asylum seekers.
Open to: 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th semester students.
8 units: 3-unit class component and 5-unit fieldwork component must be taken concurrently. Class is graded, fieldwork is graded pass-fail.
Prerequisites: Consent of the instructor. Statutory Immigration Law, Upper Class Immigration Law or Refugee Law is strongly preferred, but not required. Prior or concurrent enrollment in International Human Rights is a plus.
Classroom Component: Students will attend a weekly two-hour seminar, which focuses on the development of lawyering skills and enhances their understanding of ethical issues and other subjects bearing on refugee and human rights legal advocacy work. Peer learning will be emphasized through the use of "clinical rounds" and reflective discussion.
Fieldwork Component: Students work 16-20 hours per week on projects that involve refugee and human rights issues and present a unique opportunity to develop a range of skills relevant to legal advocacy in these areas. In the refugee area, students may engage in the direct representation of asylum seekers or do policy or other high impact work, including the development of expert witness affidavits. Human rights work may involve fact-finding and report writing addressing conditions in refugee-sending countries, collaborative projects with other non-governmental organizations, and work with in-country experts. Some projects may be undertaken in partnership with the law school's Center for Gender and Refugee Studies. Students will be given as much individual responsibility as feasible, with one-on-one supervision, so as to provide them with mentoring and the opportunity to developed important professional skills and values.
To enroll: Apply on-line using the Common Clinic Application Form.
The Clinic is taught by Karen Musalo, an expert in gender-based asylum law and human rights; and Christine Natoli, Clinical Teaching Fellow at UC Hastings.
Examples of Clinic Projects
The Clinic will be of particular interest to students who want to explore how successful advocacy on individual cases can impact the development of the law, and how “non-legal” strategies, such as media and grassroots mobilization, can strengthen traditional legal strategies. Students participating in the RHRC have the opportunity to be involved in:
Thank you again for your interest in the RHRC.
Clinical Professor Karen Musalo
Christine Natoli, Clinical Teaching Fellow