Every attorney was once a law student. Studying, learning, and wondering what the next chapter of their life would bring. Some people know exactly what kind of law they want to practice and head straight in that direction, in immigration law or another specialty. I was not that student. I ended up in immigration law after a bit of a winding path (if you want to learn more about my journey, you can watch my AILA installation speech).

But, if you are someone who feels strongly about immigration law NOW as a law student, I urge you to consider applying for a fellowship that lets you explore that path a bit more with hands-on, real-world experience while you are in law school: the Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Summer Fellowship. Established by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL), and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIP/NLG), the fellowship is named after Michael Maggio, an absolutely amazing immigration and social justice attorney who mentored like the future of the practice depended on it. I truly believe that this fellowship is a legacy that honors his life and work.

You tailor the fellowship project to the needs of your organization and your calling: “The primary mission of the fellowship program is to strengthen law students’ long-term commitment to promote justice and equality for vulnerable immigrant groups. The fellowship program also aims to support applicants from diverse backgrounds, including applicants with personal experience of the immigration enforcement system, immigrants, women, people of color, persons with disabilities, persons with diverse gender and sexual identities, and formerly incarcerated people.”

You can truly make the fellowship your own! For inspiration, here are some snippets of past recipients’ success stories from the Maggio Fellowship page:

“As the 2022 Maggio Fellow, Ouranitsa Abbas worked with Luminus Network for New Americans, Inc., in Columbia, MD…She focused on creating efficient pipelines with templates and samples to encourage new staff to process high-volume application types and…oversaw trainings that focused on the ethical importance of managing client expectations, maintaining appropriate boundaries, and conducting disciplined follow-up to meet deadlines.”

“Maria Frischling was awarded the Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Fellowship in 2021 to work with Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA), a non-profit organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana, that provides pro bono representation for detained immigrants and advocates for just and humane immigration policy. During the spring and summer of 2021, Maria worked with ISLA Directors and Co-founders, Homero López and Allyson Page, on a collaborative project with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights to investigate the inhumane use of solitary confinement inside ICE detention centers in Louisiana.”

“As the 2020 Michael Maggio Fellow, Maria Thomson had the opportunity to work with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. Las Americas is a nonprofit based in El Paso, TX, that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees in West Texas and New Mexico. Maria worked with Las Americas’ Remain in Mexico Defense team…Maria provided legal consultations, full asylum representation, and connections to on-the-ground humanitarian aid for migrants struggling with food and housing insecurity.”

“Yunuen Trujillo-Jimenez worked with L.A. Voice during the summer of 2018. L.A. Voice is faith-based, multi-faith, multi-racial community organization made up of 57 diverse churches, synagogues, and mosques…As the 2018 Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Summer Fellow, Yunuen worked with L.A. Voice’s core leadership and staff to improve their deportation prevention and defense strategies, as well as their Rapid Response and Sanctuary strategies. Among other things, she partnered with Bet Tzedek Legal Services to create an FAQ regarding care of minor children in case of deportation, improved L.A. Voice’s “Know Your Rights” materials, and trained new and existing regional leaders.”

“As the 2017 Maggio Fellow, Rebecca Schueller provided legal support for immigrants detained at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC). Working with the International Institute of Akron, she helped create a program to provide information for detained asylum seekers before their credible fear interviews took place. Her original goals for the summer refocused when…over 100 Chaldean Christian Iraqi immigrants from the Detroit area of Michigan who had been issued final orders of removal as long ago as the 1980s were detained in the NEOCC. She worked with Professor Elizabeth Knowles of the University of Akron to assist the Iraqi detainees and others who were not eligible for asylum.”

“As the 2016 Maggio Fellow, Leslie Polanco-Linares was fortunate to join the immigration team at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (“PLS”) in Albany, NY…That summer, the Immigration Project at PLS accepted cases solely by assignment from the Immigration Courts in New York State and she was able to aid the immigration attorneys representing undocumented incarcerated people that would otherwise have to represent themselves for their immigration proceedings…Moreover, she had the opportunity to file multiple I-485s for Adjustment of Status and EOIR 42B for Cancellation of Removal.”

Those six examples and more are described on the Maggio Fellowship page and I encourage any law student interested in immigration law to get inspired by these talented and dedicated individuals. Then, apply yourself by February 10, 2023!