Saturday, October 31, 2015

Swapna Reddy ’16

I decided to attend Yale Law School because I knew that I wanted to be a public interest lawyer as soon as I could after I left law school. And from talking to a lot of people who were in careers that I admired, everyone seemed to be pointing me to Yale Law School as the place that would, you know, help to fund summer public interest opportunities, would help me pursue as much public interest work during the three years of law school, and also to give me the best shot to get a fellowship to hopefully start that work as soon as possible after I graduated.

I’ve done a lot of work with the Worker and Immigrants Rights Advocacy Clinic. And through that clinic I’ve been able to work on around a dozen cases, some involving the direct representation of indigent immigrant clients in New Haven, some involving detained immigrants. One case that I’m working on currently is the class action lawsuit concerning mandatory immigration detention, which I’ll be doing oral arguments for in the first circuit in November. And I’ve also been able to do some policy work with the clinic to go down to the state house in Connecticut and even successfully get a bill passed to improve labor conditions for immigrant workers, so I’ve gained a huge amount of skills from working in the clinics at Yale and it’s been a really extraordinary experience.

I’m involved in several student organizations related to furthering immigrants’ rights and also related to clinical education at Yale. I helped to co-direct the Yale Clinical Student Board, which helps to make the clinics adaptive to what Yale students want, whether it’s adding a new subject matter area or just making clinic admissions more transparent—whatever it is that students are interested in, we’re there to serve the students and interface with the clinical faculty. Another organization I’ve been very involved in is the International Refugee Assistance Project, which has allowed me to represent Iraqi clients both from New Haven and to travel to Jordan to work with Iraqi and Syrian clients there. I’ve also been able to help a lot of new law students settle into working with clients through the International Refugee Assistance Project as well. Both have been a really meaningful way to both give back to the Yale community a little but also to get to do the work that I came here to do. Another thing that I was real excited to work on with my fellow students was a project that around 20 or 30 students took on this summer, which was to represent a lot of detained families who were fleeing Central American violence and were being held in Texas. Together we made sure that none of the families had to go to their final immigration merits hearings unrepresented this summer, and we were able to assist our clients to win a lot of their cases.

A student perspective on immigration law, clinics, and public interest law at Yale Law School.