The rapidly changing field of U.S. immigration law concerns issues related to both immigration (entering the country) and naturalization (establishing citizenship). Immigration law is a practice controlled exclusively by the federal government in a variety of bureaus overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. Hearings related to immigration can take place in a special administrative court system or in federal court.
Immigration lawyers work in a variety of settings. Larger law firms employ immigration attorneys who assist corporations in securing work visas for foreign workers. These practitioners spend much of their time dealing with the human resources departments of such corporations. Those who work in smaller firms or for public interest groups may focus more on personal or family immigration cases. These cases may involve undocumented alien residents and require practitioners to pursue remedies to help their clients avoid deportation. A number of immigration practitioners also work for the federal government, handling prosecutorial or administrative work for the USCIS.
The Law School offers a basic survey course in immigration each fall. Students interested in pursuing a career in immigration should also take courses in legislation and administrative law. Students are also strongly recommended to enroll in foreign language classes offered elsewhere at the University and may apply 6 of those credits towards their law degree.
These are the core courses that — at a minimum — employers expect a student interested in this specialty to have.
- Administrative Law
- Constitutional Law I
- Constitutional Law II
- Immigration Law
- Labor and Employment Law
Students interested in this practice area should consider including one or more of the following courses as electives.
- Advanced Legal Writing
- Business Organizations I
- Client Counseling and Interviewing
- Oral Communication
These courses deepen or broaden the skills and substantive information that a lawyer in this field needs and may also provide advanced courses for students interested in a specialty within this area of practice.
(Note that whether a particular course is scheduled depends on faculty availability and student demand.)
Clinical Programs, Internships and Externships
Students work under the supervision of clinical faculty to provide legal assistance— occasionally related to immigration issues—to state and federal prison inmates throughout Wisconsin. Each student visits one or more prisons and interviews inmates about their concerns.
Student Organizations and Related Activities
The American Civil Liberties Union is a group whose primary goal is to
protect our civil liberties, as set out in the constitution and the Bill
of Rights. The ACLU was formed in 1920, and has been the party to more
litigation in the protection of the people, rather than for their repression.
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is a national organization of law students, law professors, practicing lawyers and members of the community. We want to help revitalize and transform legal debate, from law school classrooms to federal courtrooms.
The Madison Chapter of the NLG is a community chapter with both lawyers and law student members. The National Lawyers Guild is a nationwide organization of lawyers and law students dedicated to working for social justice. Formed in 1937 as the first racially integrated bar association in the country, the Guild tries to bring together all those who recognize the importance of safeguarding and extending the rights of workers, women, farmers, and minority groups upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; who actively seek to eliminate racism; who work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties; and who view the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than their repression.
The Wisconsin International Law Journal is a student-edited journal that offers articles of scholarly and practical interest in various areas of international law. Student members of the journal edit articles of scholarly and practical interest in various areas of international law and draft articles for submission and possible publication. Each spring, the Journal staff coordinates a conference on recent topics of interest in international law.
In addition to our full-time faculty, the Law School's adjunct faculty
members — prominent practicing lawyers and judges — bring their specialized
knowledge and experience to the classroom.
Grant Sovern, Adjunct, Quarles & Brady LLP