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1L Immigration Law and Advocacy Clinic

The 1L Immigration Law and Advocacy clinic is designed to provide first-year law students with the experience of counseling clients on immigration cases, performing research and writing for real cases, and engaging in community advocacy on emerging immigration issues.

About the Clinic

The Immigration Law and Advocacy Clinic focuses on innovative work on behalf of undocumented and DACA communities through the Path2Papers Project and on advocacy for detained immigrants and asylum seekers.

In the spring semester, first-year students enroll in the clinic, which is one of only two 1L-focused clinical courses in the nation. Advanced students may enroll in their 2L and/or 3L year with permission of the instructor.

Work in the clinic focuses on three areas:


The clinic partners with a wide range of local and national organizations. Collaborating with legal aid attorneys, community organizers, and other advocates allows the clinic to take on a wider variety of matters and contribute to the critical work of our partners.

The clinic takes on various cases and projects for the upstate New York immigrant community, often with local immigration providers including:

The clinic dedicates part of its docket to advocacy for detained immigrants. We work alongside legal service providers and organizers to amplify access to counsel and legal information by both representing individual clients and providing Know Your Rights presentations in detention centers.

Participating in the Clinic

Clinic Travel

Some casework may take place offsite, including at local nonprofits, in detention centers, or in immigration court. Travel is not required or guaranteed.

Fall 2023 Trip to Louisiana

Student Feedback

“This course was the most amazing experience I’ve had at Cornell Law School. I’m not sure I will ever have an experience as formative as this one again, but I am eternally grateful for the effort both faculty put into guiding us through this clinic and giving us the opportunities to engage with real legal substance by doing genuine work. This clinic reminded me of the reasons why I elected to attend law school in the first place — namely, the fact that I wanted to utilize my resources and my opportunities to fight for those who’ve gone unheard and undefended for far too long. This clinic was a bright spot in my first year — one that has likely altered the trajectory of my legal career in a radical way.”

~Nathaniel Squires ’25

“I am incredibly grateful for my experience in the clinic. I’ve learned so many new skills and perspectives that have forever changed my understanding of what it means to be a good advocate.”

~Lucy Oh ’25

“Having the opportunity to work with clients and present to community members about immigration policy changes transformed my first year … and prepared me for the summer job search in a way no other first-year experience could have.”

~Camilah Hamideh ’22

“Working on the ground in Dilley, Texas, gave me invaluable experience beyond the classroom setting. It made me a better advocate and taught me an incredible amount about the intricacies of asylum law.”

~Emily Szopinski ’20

“Working with asylum seekers was the most rewarding experience I have had in law school. Because asylum seekers don’t have a right to a lawyer at government expense, I know that the work we did was an incredibly important part of the process to help asylum seekers find safety in the U.S. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity while still in school to put my law degree to good use.”

~Hillary Rich ’19


Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer
Clinical Professor of Law (Lawyering)
(607) 255-9898
Cornell Law School
256B Hughes Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

The clinic does not work on F1 or J1 visa matters and only works on employment-based matters for DACA recipients. Please contact Global Cornell at international@cornell.edu for international student issues and immigration@cornell.edu for immigration needs for scholars.

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