Law 773 - Immigrants' Rights Policy Clinic

Nicholas Espíritu

Nicholas Espíritu

Lecturer in Law
B.A. San Jose State University, 2001
J.D. UCLA School of Law, 2004
Course Description:

The Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic addresses broad-based, systemic issues of immigrants’ rights in a practical setting, with the emphasis on state and local engagement with immigration law and immigrants’ rights.  We will put the constitutional and statutory law of immigrants’ rights into practice.

In prior semesters, IRPC students have worked with community activists and local officials and administrators to draft local ordinances affecting immigrants and their families and communities.  IRPC students have also worked with community organizations in Southern California and other parts of the United States on access to K-12 and higher education; public funding for low-income immigrants facing deportation; and policies in states, cities, and school districts regarding their involvement with federal immigration enforcement.

We will not represent individual clients directly, but we will closely with people in immigrant communities to understand their needs and the solutions that the law may be able to provide.  We will collaborate with nonprofit organizations who are working on cutting-edge immigrants’ rights issues.  We should also expect some of our projects to arise out of the direct representation work of the law school’s Immigrant Family Legal Clinic.

The classroom component will meet for two hours weekly, to cover key aspects of the law defining the state and local role in immigrants’ rights, and to develop skills that Clinic projects will require. The other two hours will generally be devoted more directly to Clinic projects.

Students who will have taken Immigration Law (Law 331) or its equivalent will receive some preference in enrollment, but Immigration Law is not a prerequisite.

This is a graded four-unit course, by letter grade (A to F), with the grade based on a combination of classroom engagement and your work on Clinic projects, including meetings with collaborating attorneys and client organizations.

Schedule and logistics:
Much of the work on Clinic projects can be done on campus, but students will need to travel inside Los Angeles County to meet with collaborating attorneys, clients, and other stakeholders.  

Work on Clinic projects, in addition to preparing for and attending classroom sessions, will require a substantial time commitment — ten hours per week, or more, depending the timing and urgency of particular matters.

Unavoidable client and stakeholder needs may require you to miss a few sessions of other courses.

Readings:
Course readings, both substantive and skills-focused, will depend on Clinic projects and be available on the MyLaw course website.


Course Learning Outcomes:

This Clinic will offer a chance to grapple concretely with the tension between immigrants’ rights doctrine and practice, and especially to help you gain the following knowledge and skills:

Substantive knowledge: You can expect to acquire a strong knowledge of the core areas of immigrants’ rights doctrine, including equal protection, federalism, and other constitutional law issues, as well as aspects of key statutory doctrinal areas, such as local enforcement of federal immigration law.  You can expect to apply and deepen your knowledge of immigration law (from the Immigration Law course or other experience) in assessing practical policy options in key areas of immigrants’ rights.  You can expect to combine your knowledge of immigrants’ rights and immigration law in ways that will allow you to work in areas of law and policy beyond the topics covered specifically in either course.

Practical lawyering skills: You can expect hands-on training in various types of legal writing, such as legislative texts, legal memoranda, sign-on advocacy letters, and press releases and other communications, and possibly briefs and other litigation documents.  You can expect to grow in areas of general professionalism, and to acquire skills in providing public testimony, in explaining legal concepts and research to non-legal audiences, in negotiating with allies and adversaries, and in developing multi-faceted strategies to work toward law reform.   

This course will not satisfy the Professional Responsibility requirement, and it will not satisfy the substantial analytic writing (SAW) requirement.

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Hiroshi Motomura / Shiu-Ming Cheer / Nicholas Espíritu 21S 773 LEC 1 WF 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM 4.0 No No
  Experiential course enrollment through separate process; deadline: Noon on 11/6/20. See ENROLL.LAW.UCLA.EDU. Early drop deadline: 5:00pm on 1/20/21. This course may shift to hybrid instruction (i.e., students have the option of participating in-person or remotely) at some time during the spring semester.