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Asylum and Convention Against Torture

The Asylum and Convention Against Torture Clinic consists of classroom and practice components. The classroom component will be devoted to learning the following:

  • Substantive immigration asylum and CAT law
  • Immigration and appellate procedure
  • Advanced persuasive writing and research skills
  • Interviewing skills

In class, students will also discuss the issues that arise in their individual cases.

The practice component involves the representation of detained aliens who have appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Supervised teams of two students will be assigned to each appeal, and will write a brief and in some cases, motions, on behalf of the alien.

  • The students will be responsible for maintaining communication with their client. This may include telephone interviews, letters responding to clients' questions, and, where possible, client visits.
  • Students may also need to conduct some investigation, such as locating and interviewing expert witnesses, obtaining affidavits from witnesses, and obtaining other information about current economic, social and political conditions in the client's home country.
  • The course will require regular submission of drafts to the instructors and at least one in-class oral argument/case presentation.

Selection of students for enrollment into the clinic is at the instructors’ discretion, but the instructors will consider the following factors (in no particular order):

  • Fluency in clients’ languages (usually Spanish)
  • Interest and experience in working with immigrants or prisoners
  • Prior clinical or immigration course work
  • Legal writing and research experience and ability
  • Ability to work well with others
  • Whether the student will have another year in which he or she could take the clinic

Because we seek a balance in the class, we will not necessarily choose all students according to how well they fulfill all of these factors. For example, we would not expect every student to speak another language. However, we will keep these factors in mind when considering each candidate.