IRAP Berkeley currently has 20 active refugee cases pending with current students representing over 75 individuals from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan. IRAP offers students the distinctive opportunity to contribute to ongoing cases on behalf of specific clients from year to year. The work consists primarily of preparing applications for resettlement interviews which can include researching country conditions, affidavit collection, client interview preparation, and document collection, as well as the client intake process. We also handle appeals and occasionally conduct congressional inquiries when cases are delayed, as well as interviewing and processing refugees requesting legal assistance from IRAP.
Students will develop both research and legal writing skills, and will also learn how to conduct interviews and develop a client relationship. Students will work with clients of diverse backgrounds, languages, religions, and countries, who come from regions as diverse as the Middle East and Central America. Additionally, we are expanding our role as policy advocates so students will have the opportunity to work on domestic policy initiatives at the federal, state, and potentially local level on issues related to refugee resettlement.
Supervision: Students’ work is supervised by the International Refugee Assistance Project in New York, New York.
Time Commitment: The time commitment is 30-40 hours per semester, although potentially the hours can far exceed this estimate. This includes both work on the case, trainings, and IRAP meetings. We expect students to work with IRAP for the life of the case, absent serious extenuating circumstances (such as leaving school, taking a job that disallows continued work (like a clerkship), or other situations beyond a student’s control). This means that students do not commit to a semester or year, but for the entire application, which can be several years. While this is quite a commitment, students need to be realistic when deciding whether to join this group due to the gravity of leaving a refugee case halfway through, which can further endanger already vulnerable clients.
Students should also be aware that the time commitment is highly volatile. Periods of intense work can pop up at any time. Although you’ll always have the support and experience of the chapter behind you, it’s important to understand that we have to work on the cases’ timelines.
Additional Information: IRAP is a great opportunity to do impactful and timely work. It is a big commitment, but we aim to make the experience one that brings people together as students and advocates. Besides the work with our clients, we want IRAP Berkeley to be a community. Since we are working with an international parent-organization, students who are considering doing asylum/refugee work post-law have the opportunity to network with people at an important organization in that field. For those who do not intend to work in public interest after graduation, working with IRAP is a great way to start developing your future pro-bono practice and get expose to some of the law firms who supervise our cases.
For more information, please contact the student leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are grateful to our supporters:
Dena Y. Acevedo ’12
Ryan K. Elsey ’12
Morrison & Foerster Foundation
Matthew D. Pelnar ’13