The following post was contributed by Haley Solomon, a second-year law student taking the Immigration Clinic course.
Joining the Immigration Clinic has been a wonderful decision for me, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about immigration law, or the practice of law in general. Throughout my time in the clinic so far, I have developed many practical skills that I am sure to use throughout my law career. Before starting the semester, I identified a few skills that I hoped to advance while in the immigration clinic, including oral and written advocacy. The clinic has afforded me multiple opportunities to develop my oral advocacy skills. Most recently, I gave a presentation to my classmates about my client and her case, during which I explained the applicable law, the facts of the case and outlined the major issues of the case. This was a new experience for me and allowed me to work on summarizing complex legal issues.
In furtherance of my written advocacy skills, I have drafted requests for student appearance and two rounds of exhibits in support of our client's case. Additionally, I will have the opportunity in the second half of the semester to work on a brief that will be submitted to the court. With the support of my classmates and the feedback from my supervisor, I have already seen improvements both in my practical skills as well as my confidence in my own abilities.
I have also learned a lot about immigration law, including a few things that have surprised me. The process of applying for asylum in the United States can be confusing and difficult. In some courts, it becomes clear just how these systems are sometimes stacked against the very people they are sworn to serve. This is exactly why I think clinics like the Georgia State Law Immigration Clinic are so important, because we are working to protect vulnerable populations and to make legal safeguards accessible for all.
Further, the clinic has taught me a few valuable lessons that I will make sure to take with me as I progress in my legal career. Will Miller, our clinic supervisor, stresses the importance of regular self-reflection, goal setting and wellness check-ins. This is something that I think is often overlooked in the practice of law, and it can be easy to forget to take care of your own wellness in an industry that does not always prioritize it.
For example, we complete regular reflection memos where we are encouraged to think about our performance, our goals, and our strengths and weaknesses. This helps keep me focused on regular goal setting and self-assessment in order to make sure that I am doing the best work I can. Additionally, and perhaps most important for me, the clinic stresses the importance of wellness in law. I am continuously learning what being a balanced and healthy attorney looks like. Ultimately, I will continue to conduct self-assessments and wellness check-ins as I continue to practice, because it helps me be the best attorney I can be for my client.