FAQs for Prospective Students
What kind of legal experience will I get in the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic?
You will be providing legal representation to immigrant and low-wage working men and women in active litigation helping them recover unpaid wages, combat employment discrimination, and enforce basic employment rights. You will essentially be engaged in a plaintiffs’ employment litigation practice for restaurant kitchen workers, janitors, construction laborers, and similar low-wage working people. The Clinic gives students hands-on experience with civil litigation, basic employment law, public interest practice, and the evolving fields of immigrant employment rights and transnational migrant worker rights.
Most of the Clinic’s litigation is filed in federal court, with some are in state court. We aim to give students the opportunity to work on cases as several different phases of the litigation process: initial client interviewing and investigation; development initiation and management of active litigation; adept use of written discovery and depositions to prove and win the case; negotiations with opposing counsel, formal mediation, and settlement; occasionally, court hearings or trials. Upon successful conclusion of cases students manage their clients’ recovery of the unpaid wages and damages they have won and the new sense of empowerment and dignity they have earned through affirmatively and successfully enforcing their own employment rights.Back to top
What law firms and attorneys will I work with and learn from?
The Clinic’s work takes place off-campus, inside the Austin law offices and law practice of the non-profit Equal Justice Center. The EJC, with offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio is the leading law firm in Texas specialized in employment law for immigrant and low-wage working people. Worker Rights Clinic students get to observe and understand some of the inner workings of an independent public interest law firm, with a statewide law practice. They also get a chance to work closely with the EJC’s experienced employment lawyers as their supervisors, co-counsel, and mentors. With the EJC offices currently closed to in-person operations due to the pandemic, Clinic students work remotely with the EJC attorneys inside the EJC’s innovative remote virtual law practice and become part of the first generation of lawyers developing new technological tools destined to permanently transform law practice and the legal system.Back to top
How does the Worker Rights Clinic relate to immigrant rights?
Clinic clients are U.S. citizens, authorized immigrants, temporary foreign guest workers, and undocumented immigrants. A substantial majority are undocumented immigrants. The Equal Justice Center and the Clinic is one of the nation’s leading law firms with expertise in providing immigrants full access to the justice system to affirmatively enforce their workplace rights – regardless of their immigration status. The EJC and the Clinic practice pro-active employment law for immigrant workers and families, as distinct from traditional immigration law practice. The EJC does provide some essential immigration law services, in house, to protect and enhance its clients’ immigration rights when connected to their employment. For immigration law services not related to the clients’ employment, the EJC partners and collaborates with traditional immigration lawyers, organizations, and clinics.Back to top
Are there any language proficiency prerequisites for the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic?
No. A large majority of our clients are Spanish-speakers, but the Clinic also handles cases for clients who speak a wide variety of languages. Proficiency in Spanish can be quite helpful – and occasionally proficiency in other languages. But foreign language proficiency is in no way necessary. Indeed an increasingly essential skill for modern law practice is the ability to effectively use interpreters and remote translation services to represent clients in any language they may speak.Back to top
Are there course prerequisites for taking the Worker Rights Clinic?
No. While there are no prerequisites, students will extensively use their first-year civil procedure and contracts law understanding and will benefit from any previous course work or experience relating to labor and employment law, immigration law, administrative law, international law, and human rights law. Students will profit from any experience with low-wage working people, labor rights, migrant workers or immigrant communities.Back to top