Student Reflection by Summer Moore-Estes ’13

One of the reasons I chose to attend Harvard Law School was because of the opportunities to practice law as a student in their clinical programs, especially the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic.

I knew I wanted to be involved in HIRC before I even set foot on campus.  The idea of working with asylum seekers and refugees seemed rewarding and exciting.  Little did I know how much I would gain and learn from the experience.

Participating in HIRC reminded me why I came to law school.  It allowed me to combine my passion for human rights and compassion for asylum seekers with the skills I was developing as a law student.  It made the law real to me in a way that Contracts or Property never could.  To be a part of a team that was working to provide human rights protection to an asylum seeker was an invaluable experience.

Week after week I am amazed at the strength of the clients I work with.  They have suffered in ways that I cannot even fathom.  They have endured persecution at the hands of their government or because their government refused to protect them.  The perseverance they have is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and hope for a better life.

I had the opportunity to represented one of my clients in Immigration Court.  I sat next my client as the Immigration Judge announced his decision.  My client was granted asylum.  I cannot describe the relief that washed over the room.  I could not keep the tears from rolling down my face.  He suffered so much, he remained so strong, and he now is receiving the humanitarian protection he needs.  It is a great testament of justice and the impact of human rights law on the life of an individual.

My experience from participating in the clinic is invaluable.  I feel much more confident in my legal skills as a result of being a part of the clinic.  The training and supervision I received really helped me develop professionally and personally, much more than any of the traditional courses I took.  My clinical experience is a wonderful affirmation of why I chose to attend law school in the first place, and more specifically HLS.