Ryan Kurtz is one of the recent Harvard Law School grads who spent time at our clinic. Next year, he will be joining the Hudson County office of the New Jersey Public Defenders. We wanted to hear a little bit more about these plans, and about his time at HIRC, so we asked him a few questions:
Q: What are some of the learning experiences you took away from your time at HIRC?
A: The biggest learning experience from HIRC was learning how to talk to anyone about anything. It’s probably the most important skill that any lawyer can have. I learned how to speak to people about the worst moment of their lives, where they endured what generally would be considered unspeakable suffering. Being able to speak with someone about unspeakable suffering is a challenge, and an important one to be able to overcome.
Q: What were some of the projects you worked on during your time at HIRC?
A: I worked on two asylum cases. One was an affirmative case. I gave the closing statement at the hearing, and our clients got asylum a few weeks ago. Very happy with that result, and it was an amazingly rewarding exlerience. I also worked on a case where a client lost the asylum hearing and then came to HIRC for the defensive portion in immigration court. That case is still pending.
Q: How did your time at HIRC help you?
A: HIRC was an invaluable experience. Even though I will probably never use the precise knowledge that I gained in the area of asylum law in future practice, the broader skills that I learned (for example, client communication), could not have been learned elsewhere. If you can talk to a client about the basis of their claim for asylum, you can talk to a client about anything.
Thanks Ryan, and good luck in New Jersey!
COMING UP: Marina Basseas tells us about her plans to work as a fellow at ProBAR Children’s Project in Harlingen, Texas!