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Pathways to the Profession: Jeff Simon L’22

July 08, 2020

Jeff Simon L’22 is a 2L from West Bloomfield, MI. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and also earned a Master’s degree in Chemistry from Stanford University. He is interested in both law and public policy.

I am honored to be interning at the Tahirih Justice Center this summer. Tahirih is a nonprofit that provides free representation for immigrant victims of gender-based and sexual violence. I have received a 2020 Equal Justice Works Summer Immigration Legal Corps fellowship, as well as a Penn Law Equal Justice Foundation grant, which are generously funding my internship. I was hoping to be working at Tahirih’s Atlanta office this summer, but due to COVID-19 I am working remotely from Philadelphia.

Our clients are typically seeking asylum or a visa on the basis of gender-based or sexual violence they have experienced.

In the few weeks I have been working at Tahirih, I have written legal memos, co-written sections of briefs, and drafted motions to make the case that the amazing human beings we call clients deserve to stay in the United States.

It has been an incredible honor to do this work. There are only three attorneys and three interns, and the attorneys need us to share the work load with them, so much of our work is ultimately used in the final legal documentation that’s submitted to courts and used in support of our clients. This has been intimidating, of course, since I have just one year of law school under my belt, but it has also made the work extremely rewarding. For instance, when we found out that our client’s brief was due just five days later, I helped draft a motion to push back the deadline, and it was granted. It was so gratifying to know that what I did helped our client.

I am incredibly grateful to Jessica Simon, my Legal Practice Skills professor, and Molly, my Littleton Fellow. I use legal writing every day at my internship, and their clear and compassionate teaching has been absolutely invaluable. I am also using a lot of what I learned from my Administrative Law course, since immigration law is mostly adjudicated through federal agencies. Thank you, Professor Cary Coglianese, for preparing me!

The reason I came to law school was to do this work. I worked as an educator in immigrant communities for seven years before law school and saw how legal status barred young people from embarking on the careers of their dreams. It was heartbreaking to see young people unable to live out the lives they desired.

I plan to use my knowledge of substantive law and relationship-building with clients to work as an immigration attorney at a nonprofit like Tahirih after law school. Eventually, I would like to do public policy work as well, advocating for more humane immigration policies that allow people fleeing unspeakable violence and tragedy to stay here more easily.

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