WHAT IS IRAP?
Student group, pro bono project, and advocacy organization rolled into one, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) utilizes pro bono legal representation, strategic litigation, and policy advocacy on behalf of refugees seeking resettlement, as well as assists those who have already resettled. IRAP Berkeley coordinates with pro bono counsel, IRAP National in New York, NGOs in the Middle East and around the world, and fellow IRAP Chapters across the country and in Canada to help refugees. IRAP’s thirty law school chapters and hundreds of pro bono attorneys have helped resettle over 3,000 refugees in life or death situations.
WHAT IRAP DOES:
Case Work: IRAP members work with pro bono counsel and IRAP staff attorneys to represent refugees and visa applicants who are located outside of the United States.
Projects: IRAP members will have the opportunity to work on projects related to client screening, research, policy advocacy, and community engagement and education. This year we plan to host a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) training and intake clinic with the local Afghan community, as well as lobby congressional representatives to support refugee petitions for relatives of families residing in their districts. For the first time, we also plan to create a dedicated policy team which will work with IRAP National to research and advocate for comprehensive and humane reform in refugee law and practice.
Student Trips: A few IRAP student members are selected each year to participate in trips to Jordan and Lebanon to meet with NGOs that work with refugees to learn more about the refugee process and to assist IRAP staff conduct intakes.
Training: IRAP provides students with comprehensive training on refugee issues and relevant law. Past training sessions have covered:
• UNHCR Refugee Status Determination
• Psychological Training: Clients with PTSD and the effects of trauma
• The Nuts and Bolts of Working Cases
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 exposed 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