Refugee and Human Rights Clinic

The Refugee and Human Rights Clinic (RHRC) provides students with the opportunity to perform hands-on work in both domestic and international aspects of refugee and human rights law, while developing the critical advocacy skills of strategizing, research, analysis, and writing. We also emphasize collaboration and reflection.  Student cases span a wide range of work, from direct representation of asylum applicants to intensive research into international human rights issues.

Students have the opportunity to work on projects with leading refugee and human rights organizations as well.  For example, the RHRC has a close relationship with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), which works to advance women’s human rights by focusing on gender-based asylum law and broader migration policies, both in the U.S. and internationally.  As one of the nation’s leading refugee advocacy organizations, CGRS engages in impact litigation, national policy advocacy, and other strategies in defense of asylum seekers.

Students develop critical lawyering skills including:

  • Interviewing
  • Fact investigation
  • Client counseling
  • Working with an interpreter
  • Legal research
  • Country conditions research
  • Declaration drafting
  • Brief writing
  • Teamwork

Examples of Clinic Projects

The Clinic will be of particular interest to students who want to explore how successful advocacy on individual cases can impact the development of the law, and how “non-legal” strategies, such as media and grassroots mobilization, can strengthen traditional legal strategies. Students participating in the RHRC have the opportunity to be involved in projects including direct representation of asylum seekers before the Asylum Office; developing reports and expert affidavits around cutting edge refugee and international human rights issues; and research and advocacy on human rights issues linked to refugee flows – such as the phenomenon of “femicides” or children fleeing gang violence in Central America.

Clinical Instructors

The Clinic is taught by Karen Musalo, an expert in gender-based asylum law and human rights; and Christine Natoli, Clinical Teaching Fellow at UC Law SF.

Headshot of Karen Musalo

Karen Musalo

Professor and Chair in International Law, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
View Karen Musalo’s Profile

Headshot of Christine Natoli

Christine Natoli

Kazan McClain Partners’ Foundation Clinical Teaching Fellow
View Christine Natoli’s Profile