Clinic: Transnational Worker Rights

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 2:45 - 5:45 pm TNH 3.129

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


APPLICATION REQUIRED. See Student Affairs Office, TNH 2.117 Students in this 6-hr. clinic will represent low-income immigrant workers in the Austin area in cases recovering unpaid wages for work performed, and will engage in other advocacy projects asserting the rights of low-wage workers here and abroad. The clinic seeks to draw the links between advocacy for the employment rights of transnational workers laboring in Central Texas and advocacy for the labor and human rights of low-wage working people around the globe. Clinic students will represent and advise clients in litigation, administrative actions, community-based enforcement strategies, and wage claims filed for criminal prosecution on wage fraud charges. Depending on the requirements of each case, students will: participate in worker education initiatives; interview and advise clients; investigate cases and develop case strategy; negotiate with opposing parties; research legal issues; prepare legal documents including pleadings, motions and discovery, and represent clients in hearings or court proceedings. The clinic's legal advocacy is based on a community- lawyering model which seeks not just to win cases, but also to empower clients with the knowledge, skills, and collective capacity to advance their own employment rights. At the same time, students' casework is grounded in the broader context of contemporary transnational and international labor rights advocacy. Bill Beardall, the clinical instructor, is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Center, the former Director of the Migrant Worker Division of Texas Rural Legal Aid and an expert on low-wage employment rights. He has 26 years of experience representing immigrant workers and training young attorneys. The casework component will be conducted in collaboration with the Central Texas Immigrant Worker Rights Center, a project of the Equal Justice Center (EJC) in Austin, which is operated in collaboration with Casa Marianella, Catholic Charities of Central Texas and the Mexican Consulate. The clinic requires students to devote substantial time each week to handling cases, including scheduled office hours at the Equal Justice Center office, weekly meetings with workers at a South Austin Community Center, and conferences with clients as necessary. The classroom component of the clinic will meet once a week. During the first week, students will receive an intensive classroom orientation before starting their casework assignments. The coursework will place the employment rights of transnational workers in a broader, interdisciplinary framework of evolving national and international labor and human rights advocacy. Instruction will address the challenges of adapting U.S. and international law and legal practice to the evolving transnational work force, including: wage and hour laws; contract law; civil litigation and representation skills; freedom of association and the right to organize; immigration laws in the workplace; ethical issues in legal representation; immigration and labor policy; community- based legal strategies and civic participation rights; the International Labor Organization and the core international labor standards, the NAFTA Labor Side Agreement, and domestic and international mechanisms for the enforcement of worker rights. The clinic is open to students who have completed the first year of law school. While there are no prerequisites, students will benefit from previous course work or experience relating to employment law, immigration law, international law, human rights law, low-wage working people, migrant workers or immigrant communities, or experience in or regarding Latin American communities. Most clinic clients are Spanish-speakers from a variety of Latin American countries. Spanish fluency accordingly is preferred, but not required. Questions about the clinic may be directed to Bill Beardall at Please put "Worker Rights Clinic" in the subject line of any communication. This clinic has been established through a generous grant from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.