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Immigration And Deportation Defense Clinic

Western State College of Law’s Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic (Clinic) is a five-credit, one-semester course that will be launched in the spring 2024 semester. Through the clinic, students will become certified under the State Bar of California to directly represent real-life clients in a range of immigration matters under faculty supervision. While the focus of the Clinic is on immigration law, the skills that students will be exposed to are critical for many practice areas.

Students will learn a range of core lawyering skills while providing direct representation to their clients. Students may exercise research, drafting, interviewing, client counseling, cross-cultural, trial skills and more, during the course of the semester. Students will also learn about the process of lawyering, such as, setting goals, planning, doing, reflecting and how to make intentional choices in the face of uncertainty.

There will be four components to the Clinic including: 1) a seminar; 2) field work (casework and a project); 3) weekly supervision meetings; and, 4) case rounds.

Students enrolled in the clinic are required to attend a weekly two hour seminar. The seminar classes will cover a range of topics from immigration law to substantive lawyering skills and case rounds (an opportunity for students to reflect on their fieldwork with other law students enrolled in the clinic). All five units of the seminar are graded.

Students will work on a range of immigration cases and projects, such as, providing representation to persons that are detained and vulnerable to immediate deportation; youth that have been abused, neglected or abandoned by both parents and are seeking relief before state courts and government agencies; and persons seeking post-conviction relief in the criminal legal system to prevent their deportation. Students will also work with community organizations on legal empowerment and advocacy projects such as providing legal information to community members unable to obtain legal representation while defending themselves against deportation pro se.

Students interested in enrolling in the clinic require approval from the clinic director. If you are interested in learning more or applying to the Clinic, email Professor Sabrina Rivera at


Selected Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any course requirements for the Immigration Clinic?
Yes. Students must have taken, or be concurrently enrolled in, the following three classes in order to take the Immigration Clinic: Evidence, Professional Responsibility, and Civil Procedure II. Students must also be in good academic standing. To confirm students are in good standing, a copy of your unofficial transcript will be provided by the Registrar’s office after your application is received.

Do I have to speak a foreign language?
Not necessarily. The clinic will have interpreters and translators available if needed while representing the client or working with community organizations on projects.

I’m an evening/part-time student. Can I still take the Clinic?
Evening/part-time students may be admitted to the Clinic on a case-by-case basis. If you are an evening student, please speak with Prof. Rivera before submitting an application.

What does it mean to be certified by the State Bar of California to practice law?
Students enrolled in the clinic will be certified by the State Bar of California under the Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS) program and allows them to practice law and provide legal services under the supervision of an attorney. To learn more about the PTLS rules, visit the California State Bar website here.


Community Members

If you are a community member searching for legal representation or assistance, please call (714) 459-1196 or email us at: You can also find representation by a private attorney by searching the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Attorney Directory or contacting your local bar association such as the Orange County Bar Association or Los Angeles County Bar Association.

The clinic also accepts cases on a referral basis from legal service providers and community organizations. We cannot provide representation to every person that contacts the clinic because we are limited in our resources and operate on an academic calendar. If you would like to refer a case to our clinic, please email us at

Founded in 1966, Western State College of Law is the oldest law school in Orange County, Southern California, and is fully ABA approved. Western State College of Law’s 11,000+ alumni are well represented across public and private sector legal practice areas, including 150 California judges and about 15% of Orange County’s Deputy Public Defenders and District Attorneys.

16715 Von Karman Ave., #100
Irvine, CA 92606

Programs, credential levels, technology and scheduling options are subject to change. Western State College of Law at Westcliff University, 16715 Von Karman Ave., #100, Irvine, CA 92606 © 2020 Western State College of Law. All rights reserved. Our email address is

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