Now Accepting Applications: 2015 Cleary Gottlieb Summer Fellowship at HIRC



Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Cleary Gottlieb Summer Fellowship at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC). The summer fellow will work on cases involving direct representation of individuals from around the world seeking asylum and other humanitarian protections. The fellow may also work on appellate and policy advocacy at the local, national and international levels. To apply, please submit a résumé, cover letter, and two references to Applications are due January 23, 2015.

Note: The Cleary Gottlieb Fellowship is open to Harvard law students only. Other unpaid summer internships are available at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic. Please send a cover letter and resume to hirc@law.harvard,edu to apply.

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HIRC Clients Granted Asylum

HIRC students recently landed two exciting victories for asylum clients seeking refuge in the United States following traumatic experiences in their home countries.

Escaping LGBT Persecution in West Africa

Over the course of a year, Sophie Glickstein ’15 and Sussan Lee ’15 worked extensively on the asylum case of a gay West African man, ostracized by his community and physically assaulted for his sexual orientation. The man originally arrived in the United States in 2010, and unsuccessfully applied for asylum without the help of an attorney, before being referred to HIRC by Immigration Equality, an NGO that supports and represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers in the United States. Glickstein and Lee began their work on the case in September 2013.

In order to prepare for the case, Glickstein and Lee interviewed the client and conducted country conditions research on the state of LGBT people in his home country, focusing on the threats to the client from his tribe, from his community and from rising conservatism and Islamic extremism in his home country. The danger to the client was quite evident, according to Glickstein. In a series of incidents, the client was attacked under the suspicion that he was gay. “After his true orientation was discovered, he would almost certainly have been killed by tribal, community, or family members if he’d stayed in his home country,” Glickstein said.

The traumatic and sensitive nature of this experience made the story difficult to relive, a process that is necessary for court preparations. Glickstein and Lee worked to earn the trust of the client, so that he could feel safe and comfortable sharing his story. “Through our many and lengthy meetings with the client, we were able to build that baseline of trust and able to thoroughly represent him and prepare him for his direct and cross examinations in court,” Lee said.

The initial immigration court hearing, where the client testified, took place in April, but there was not enough time to present the expert witness testimony so the judge continued the case to September, to allow for testimony by the expert witnesses. Glickstein and Lee had to re-prepare the expert witnesses and closing argument for the September date; however, when their day in court arrived, the judge made her decision without needing to hear the extra testimony. “Even though we knew we had a strong case, we were stunned,” Lee said.

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Sophie Glickstein ’15 (right) and Sussan Lee ’15 (center) enjoy a celebratory breakfast with their client (left) after receiving the good news that he had been granted asylum.

It was four years between the client’s arrival in the United States and the asylum victory. Glickstein counts herself lucky to have contributed to the client’s journey towards asylum: “He is extraordinarily resilient and has survived so much to get to where he is today.”

 An East African Woman’s Flight from Political Persecution

HIRC students Yana Mereminsky ’15 and Eszter Vincze ’15 collaborated on the case of an East African woman who was attacked based on her opposition to the current government. The client’s opposition was seen as threatening to the government’s power, and security forces targeted and tortured her and her family, killing her relatives and forcing her into hiding. “It eventually became clear to my client that if she did not escape, government forces would find her soon and probably kill her,” Mereminsky said. Vincze and Mereminsky began working on the case in the fall of 2013 to prepare the client for her immigration court hearing.

With a hearing scheduled in March 2014, Mereminsky and Vincze researched the policies of the client’s home country and the government’s attacks on members of the opposition and the client’s tribe. The two students worked closely with various witnesses, ranging from physicians and psychologists to country conditions experts to friends and family of the client to corroborate the story in her application for asylum. According to Vincze, however, the most important efforts were towards preparing the client to testify at trial, as well as practicing direct and cross-examination with the various expert witnesses.

 The client experienced extreme trauma, which added another challenge to the case, as the client often had difficulty telling her story. Along with the client’s medical and psychological team at the Boston Center for Health and Human Rights, Mereminsky and Vincze worked hard to prepare the client to testify in court, while also being sensitive to the trauma she had suffered; the final product was a great accomplishment for the whole team, and the results filled Mereminsky with “great pride and admiration for [her] client’s strength.”

 The hearing in March 2014 was just as emotionally taxing; a tough cross-examination by the government attorney and a lengthy proceeding left both the client and the legal team drained. The team’s victory in September 2014 came far sooner than expected, as the judge had scheduled the team to come back to court in April 2015, for a decision to be handed down at that time. Both Mereminsky and Vincze were pleased with the results. “The relief that she wouldn’t be sent back to further violence was immense,” said Vincze of the decision.

 For Mereminsky, the victory was a formative moment in her legal career: “…when I heard the news, I felt like it signified the most worthwhile experience of my law school career. I can genuinely say that in the course of law school, I am most proud of the work I’ve done for HIRC.”

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Harvard Portrait: Deborah Anker

via: Harvard Magazine

Deborah Anker is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program at Harvard Law School. Photograph by Stu Rosner


“THIS IS MY CAUSE,” thought Deborah Anker, M.A.T. ’70, LL.M. ’84, upon her first encounter with immigration law. A second-generation American whose Jewish grandparents crossed the Atlantic to escape the Holocaust, she got her start at a Boston-based refugee-assistance organization, where she worked for a few years after earning her law degree. Her family history sparked her passion for the subfield of asylum law, on which she later wrote the treatise that made her one of the discipline’s most prominent scholars. The clinical professor of law notes that she inherited her deep sense of social justice from her parents, both public servants with progressive values. “I have grown up with a tremendous passion about civil rights,” she recalls, adding that even her family was not progressive enough for her rebellious spirit. When Anker joined the Law School faculty in the mid 1980s, she notes, immigration “wasn’t even considered an area of law.” In addition to teaching the first full immigration-law course offered at the school, in 1984 she co-founded the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, an initiative that engages students in the direct representation of asylum applicants. “The best doctrine is shaped by the experience of representing clients,” explains Anker, whose career has unfolded at the intersection of scholarship and practice. “I was born into a community that had just suffered so much,” she says of her choice not to pursue a “happier” field. Coming into close contact with the sadness of her clients has been for her a cathartic experience. During three decades of lawyering, Anker has witnessed “the resiliency of the human spirit” in her clients, which she says has been profoundly transformative.

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Cross-Clinical Collaboration: HIRC visits Charles Darwin University in Australia

This past August, HIRC’s Sabi Ardalan traveled to Australia to help Charles Darwin University (CDU) in Australia’s Northern Territory set up their own clinical program.  Jeswynn Yogaratnam, a law lecturer at CDU, initiated the plan for an immigration and refugee law clinic in hopes of training a new generation of humanitarian lawyers while addressing increasing demand for legal services as rising numbers of asylum seekers in the territory face detention and deportation.

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Sabi Ardalan (left) and Jeswynn Yogaratnam from Charles Darwin University

Sabi met Jeswynn last November when he came to Boston to meet with clinic staff and students at Harvard and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) to learn about the clinic.

During her trip this August, Sabi led a two-day workshop at the Charles Darwin University School of Law with law faculty and community partners to discuss the evolving role of clinical legal education in the US and Australia and set the groundwork for a clinical program at CDU.  During her time there, Sabi also spoke at the Northern Territory’s Law Society about the current challenges of the US asylum system as record numbers of people arrive at the US Border and adjudicators place increasing emphasis on credibility and corroborating evidence.

CDU hopes to officially launch their immigration and refugee clinical program at the beginning of next year.

For more information on HIRC’s collaboration with Charles Darwin University visit

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Nancy Kelly and John Willshire Carrera win Dean’s Award for Excellence

Congratulations to Nancy Kelly and John Willshire Carrera, co-managing directors of HIRC at Greater Boston Legal Services, who recently won the Harvard Law School’s Dean’s Award for Excellence for their exceptional teaching and mentoring of students at Harvard Law School and for their leadership in developing child asylum  and gender-based asylum law, as well as indigenous Guatemalan and gang-based asylum claims. 

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From left: John Willshire Carrera, Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, Nancy Kelly, and Lisa Dealy, Assistant Dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

John and Nancy helped found HIRC 30 years ago and have worked tirelessly over the years to help immigrants and to train generations of immigration attorneys.  In their nominations letters, John and Nancy’s colleagues described the dedication, compassion and skill they have brought to HIRC over the past 30 years:

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HIRC staff members (from left): Liala Buoniconti, Sabi Ardalan, John Willshire Carrera, Nancy Kelly, Maggie Morgan, Phil Torrey, and Lucy Cummings

 “Their commitment to legal service and their dedication and ability to build ties between our law school and the legal services community has helped make us a true social justice clinic.” 


“They are the glue that holds the immigration unit of GBLS together… John and Nancy’s expertise in immigration is unrivaled and their dedication to both their clients and students is exceptional among attorneys and mentors.”       

“They are tireless advocates for hundreds of noncitizens in the Boston area, supremely gifted supervisors and managing attorneys of HIRC at GBLS, and incredible mentors to many of us at HIRC.”

Congratulations John and Nancy for this extremely well deserved honor!

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