Clinic: Transnational Worker Rights
- Semester: Fall 2021
- Course ID: 697C
- Credit Hours: 6
- Course Type: Clinic
- Grading Method: Pass/Fail Mandatory
- Experiential Credit: 6 credit hours
- Upperclass-only elective
|WED||3:45 - 5:35 pm||JON 5.257|
For students participating in the spring semester, this clinic and its robust litigation practice will be conducted remotely online - using Zoom and other innovative electronic law practice methods. (See more below).
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 and to enforce other basic employment rights. Students may also engage in related advocacy projects asserting the rights of low-wage workers – especially their right to access the U.S. justice system to fully enforce their employment rights, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. 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. The Clinic seeks to enforce and understand employment rights of transnational workers laboring in Texas as an example of advocacy for the labor and human rights of immigrants and low-wage working people around the globe. Clinic students will serve as primary legal counsel representing immigrant and low-wage working people in federal and state employment litigation and administrative actions. Students will get the experience of working inside an independent public interest law firm and will be supervised and mentored by several of the nation's leading low-wage employment lawyers.
Depending on the requirements and current stage 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; represent clients in hearings, court proceedings, and mediation; and negotiate and manage the final legal settlement or recovery of damages in the case. 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 labor rights advocacy.
Bill Beardall, the clinic director, 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 four decades of experience representing migrant workers and mentoring young employment litigation lawyers.
The Clinic is conducted in partnership with the Equal Justice Center (EJC), a non-profit public-interest law firm, based in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The EJC is the leading law firm in Texas specialized in advocating for the rights of low-wage workers. Clinic students get the opportunity to work closely with a variety of EJC lawyers, who are among Texas' leading employment attorneys. 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 nearby Equal Justice Center office; 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 sessions will explore various deeper aspects of employment law, rights of immigrant workers, and effective litigation practice.
Normally the law practice of this Clinic occurs off-campus in the law offices of the Equal Justice Center. However, like most law offices, the EJC is currently closed to in-person staff and public operations, due to the pandemic. Nevertheless the EJC law practice and the TWR Clinic law practice are proceeding dynamically and successfully through innovative electronic means. One salutary effect of this adaptation is that TWR Clinic law students are getting an opportunity to learn - along with the rest of the legal profession - the novel art of remote law practice. The full spring semester clinic will be taught and conducted remotely online. Any decision to re-open the Equal Justice Center office and TWR Clinic to some optional in-person operations will be based on careful monitoring of public health conditions throughout the spring. Nonetheless, any student who enrolls in the Clinic for the spring semester will be able to participate remotely and fully for the entire semester, even if optional in-person participation opportunities should become available for those students who are in Austin.
Classroom instruction will address the challenges of adapting U.S. law and legal practice to our increasingly transnational labor market. Subtopics include: U.S. labor and immigration policy; wage laws, employment 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; ethical issues in employment rights representation; community-based legal strategies and civic participation rights; and evolving mechanisms for the enforcement of worker rights, regardless of immigration status.
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 contract law, civil procedure, labor and 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.
While Clinic clients include U.S. citizens and immigrants from a wide array of continents and countries, a majority of clients are Spanish-speakers from a variety of Latin American countries. Spanish proficiency accordingly is very useful, but is not in any way required. APPLY ONLINE: https://law.utexas.edu/clinics/application-information/
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
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