UC Hastings’ newest clinical teaching fellow is Christine Lin. She joins the staff of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, where she will co-teach the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic (RHRC) seminar with Professor Karen Musalo and supervise clinic students.
Each semester, eight students work on cases or projects in the refugee or human rights areas. Students involved in refugee work often engage in direct representation of asylum seekers, while students working on human rights issues frequently do international fact-finding for published reports and expert affidavits.
When choosing what asylum cases students will work on, Lin said she “looks for cases where we can really make a difference.” Referrals typically come from local nongovernmental organizations or nonprofits, such as the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. She looks for cases that students can complete in a semester, and which offer challenging legal issues.
Students learn to interview clients who have been traumatized, how to do fact-finding and develop evidence that supports a client’s claims, and how to develop legal theories.
Lin said her year-long clinical work in international human rights in law school “made a lasting impression on me.” She built skills for her legal career, and found her passion for refugee and asylum law.
Students in the clinic are given primary responsibility for their cases. However, they are closely mentored and supervised, including weekly supervision meetings and reflections on the successes and challenges of each case.
“I hope my students will gain a better understanding of people from different cultures and walks of life. I hope, too, they cultivate a sense of pro bono, of public service and social justice work,” Lin said.
Students must apply to the program. Lin noted several of her students this semester are children of refugees or asylum seekers. Many have already worked or volunteered in the field, and are eager to learn in a situation where they will be given greater responsibility with the intense mentoring and guidance that is the hallmark of clinical education.
As part of her two-year fellowship, Lin will also contribute to the work of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. Prior to joining UC Hastings, Lin served as legal director of the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre, which provides pro bono legal representation to asylum seekers in refugee status claims before the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees. She has also practiced immigration law in San Francisco, representing asylum seekers, torture claimants, victims of domestic violence, and others.
Lin began her legal career as a Judicial Law Clerk/Attorney Advisor with the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, at the Los Angeles Immigration Court.