Allison Perlin L’20 is the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Fellowship and works at Human Rights First. Originally from Kildeer, Illinois, Allison received her B.A. with Highest Honors from the University of Wisconsin, where she created and piloted the International Human Rights major while also majoring in Political Science and minoring in Modern Dance. Her honors thesis analyzed peacebuilding after genocide.
Q: Tell us about your fellowship, including where you’re working, the problems that you’re responding to, and the goals of your project.
A: At Human Rights First, I have been incredibly lucky to work on both direct representation and impact litigation dockets. My fellowship works to better serve clients in grave need of immigration representation and challenging systemic rights violations within the immigration system. I strived to incorporate global human rights standards throughout my fellowship, from direct representation to federal lawsuits suing the United States government.
Q: How did your experiences before and during law school lead you to this project or public interest generally?
A: My law school experiences in the Transnational Legal Clinic and leading projects in student pro bonos, like the International Human Rights Advocates and Criminal Record Expungement Project, prepared me for this work. These experiences taught me the importance of dedicated, focused, and empathetic client advocacy. They empowered me to pursue what the law can and should be from human rights and social justice perspectives.
Q: Thus far, what accomplishments during your fellowship are you most proud of?
A: Thus far, I am most proud of our impact litigation and our direct humanitarian parole representation. In particular, our litigation in the case of Human Rights First v. Wolf, suing to enjoin the monster asylum regulation promulgated in the waning days of the Trump Administration, challenged and inspired me. Along with the lawsuits brought by sister organizations in California, we were successful in stopping the rule from infringing even a single asylum seeker’s rights.
Being involved in cases like this to improve United States immigration law gives me much hope for the future. At the same time, I am so proud to be representing asylum seekers facing immense danger and in acute need of humanitarian protections at the U.S.-Mexico border. There is nothing more humbling than representing and winning relief for clients in need of immediate human rights protections.
This story originally appeared in the Pathways to the Profession series.