Clinic: Transnational Worker Rights
- Semester: Spring 2020
- Course ID: 697C
- Credit Hours: 6
- Course Type: Clinic
- Grading Method: Pass/Fail Mandatory
- Experiential Credit: 6 credit hours
- Professional Skills: Satisfies ABA Professional Skills Requirement
- Upperclass-only elective
|WED||3:45 - 5:35 pm||JON 6.201|
TRANSNATIONAL WORKER RIGHTS CLINIC IS A 6-HR. CLINIC. Students in this clinic will represent low-income transnational migrant workers mainly in Central Texas in legal action to recover unpaid wages for work they have performed. Students may also engage in related advocacy projects asserting the rights of low-wage workers here and abroad – especially their right to access the justice system in order to enforce their employment rights, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The Clinic gives students hands-on experience with civil litigation, basic employment law, public interest practice, and the emerging field of transnational migrant worker rights. The Clinic seeks to make the links between advocacy for the employment rights of transnational workers laboring in Texas and advocacy for the labor and human rights of low-wage working people around the globe. Clinic students will serve as primary legal counsel representing and advising migrant worker clients in wage rights litigation, administrative actions, community-based enforcement strategies, and wage claims filed for criminal prosecution on wage theft charges. Depending on the requirements of each case, students will: interview and advise clients; investigate cases and develop legal action strategies; negotiate with opposing parties and their lawyers; initiate and manage active litigation; prepare legal documents in the student's cases including pleadings, motions, and briefs; conduct discovery in the student's cases including written discovery and the taking of depositions; research legal issues; and represent clients in hearings or court proceedings. The clinic's legal advocacy is based on a community-lawyering model which seeks to accomplish more than just winning individual cases; the clinic also aims to promote systemic reforms that make the justice system more fair for transnational workers and to empower clients with the knowledge, skills, and collective capacity through which they can advance their own employment rights.
In addition, the clinic seeks to ground each student's particular casework within the dynamic, emerging field of 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 RioGrande Legal Aid and a nationally recognized expert on low-wage employment rights. He has more than three decades of experience representing migrant workers and mentoring young employment litigation lawyers. The casework component of the Clinic is conducted in collaboration with the Equal Justice Center, a non-profit public-interest law firm, based in Austin and San Antonio, which advocates for the rights of low-income workers.
The clinic requires students to devote a substantial amount of time each week to handling active cases for real clients, including scheduled office hours at the Equal Justice Center office in South Austin, regular case review with supervising attorneys, and frequent conferences with clients. During the first week of the course, before starting their casework assignments, students will receive an intensive classroom orientation on low-wage employment litigation practice. The classroom component of the clinic will meet once a week for two hours. The classroom work 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 our increasingly transnational labor market. Subtopics include: U.S. and international immigration and labor policy; wage laws and contract law as they affect transnational workers; the tension between immigration laws and labor rights; rights of transnational "guest workers"; civil litigation and representation skills specific to transnational worker cases; freedom of association and the right to organize; ethical issues in employment rights representation; community-based legal strategies and civic participation rights; international labor and human rights standards; and evolving 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, and experience related to Latin American communities. Most clinic clients are Spanish-speakers from a variety of Latin American countries. Spanish proficiency accordingly is very useful, but is not required.
Questions about the clinic may be directed to Bill Beardall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Worker Rights Clinic" in the subject line of any communication. APPLY ONLINE: https://law.utexas.edu/clinics/application-information/