Program training new attorneys to assist immigrants is working, says federal appeals judge

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly A. Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Jul 5, 2018

Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, left, and UH Law Dean Avi Soifer, center. Spencer Kimura photo.
Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, left, and UH Law Dean Avi Soifer, center. Spencer Kimura photo.

A program launched in New York to train newly minted law school graduates as a kind of "Peace Corps of immigration" is having profound results in providing legal assistance to immigrants, the program’s founder told an audience of more than 300 at the William S. Richardson School of Law in July.

In his keynote address to the 2018 Hawai‘i Access to Justice Conference at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, Second Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann said that the 104 young lawyers trained since 2014 have already handled thousands of cases.

These young attorneys – part of the new Immigration Justice Corps, which also trains non-lawyers – already are helping to gain fair treatment for immigrants in court hearings in over half a dozen states. Without representation, immigrants seeking asylum prevail in just 13 percent of cases compared to 73 percent of cases when they have legal representation.  

“Much has been done, but there is still much to do,” Katzmann told the standing-room only crowd at the law school. “Each of us can make a difference working together to solve this problem of compelling human concern.”

Compelling human concerns are exactly what Hawai‘i’s Access to Justice Commission has dealt with since its inception 10 years ago. This year’s day-long conference, “Fighting for Access to Justice For All,” was hosted by the law school and brought together judges, attorneys, legal scholars, social workers, healthcare workers, community activists, students, and interested members of the public. With an overflow crowd, it was the commission’s largest annual conference in its decade of work.

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