Ex. Immigration Defense - Fieldwork

Course Information

Course Number
Curriculum Level
Areas of Study
Administrative Law and Public Policy, Clinics, Externships, and Experiential Learning, Human Rights
Additional Attributes
Experiential Credit

Section 002 Information


Section Description

Course Description
The Immigration Defense Externship provides students with the unique opportunity to work on removal cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an agency which includes the New York Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Students will participate in case strategy and prepare cases for trial, including preparing affidavits, direct examination, and cross-examination. Depending on their supervising attorneys' caseloads, students may also have the opportunity to appear before the Immigration Court. Taught by practicing attorneys of The Legal Aid Society, the Immigration Defense Externship is designed to introduce students to U.S. immigration laws and policies through a combination of lecture, discussion, simulation, and hands-on representation of immigrants facing deportation from the United States. The focus of the Externship is the interaction between federal immigration laws and federal and state criminal laws.

The Seminar
The weekly seminars will complement the students' fieldwork with a practice-oriented examination of the interaction between immigration law and criminal law. The seminars will also include trial preparation and strategy development, including developing a theory of the case. The seminars will also explore the government's policies in this area and their impact on immigrant communities through class discussions and presentations by guest speakers from the Immigration Court, criminal defense attorneys, and attorneys from Legal Aid's Federal Practice. In the seminars, students will also have the opportunity to discuss their fieldwork, including the ethical challenges arising from client interviewing and representation. The course is graded based on attendance and participation in the seminar, three short reflection papers, and participation in a mock interview and mock hearing. Minor writing credit is available upon consultation.

In the fieldwork placements, students will be expected to devote 15 hours per week. Students will undertake various tasks, which may include interviewing clients, participating in trial preparation and litigation strategy meetings, researching complex legal issues, drafting memoranda of law, and appearing before the Immigration Court. Through a comprehensive client-centered approach, students will work with one or more attorneys, and at times with social workers and/or paralegals, to assess, research, and prepare each client's case.

Requirements and Application Process
Enrollment is limited. Open to 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLM students. Skills in languages other than English, especially Spanish, preferred. Exposure to immigration and criminal law preferred.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

School Year & Semester
Fall 2023
Method of Evaluation
J.D Writing Credit?

Course Limitations

Instructor Pre-requisites
Instructor Co-Requisites
Recommended Courses
Other Limitations

Other Sections of Ex. Immigration Defense - Fieldwork

Section 001

School Year & Semester

Fall 2023



WCW 304


Class meets on
  • Wednesday


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