Marina Basseas is a recent graduate of Harvard Law School, and she also spent time at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic. In continuing with our recent profiling of this year’s HLS graduates, we asked her a few questions about her time at the clinic. She also shared her plans for next year! Here is what she told us:
Q: What do you think your biggest learning experiences were?
A: I learned a lot from just observing how my supervisors, Sabi and Emily, interacted with their clients. They both genuinely engaged with and took the time to get to know their clients, which allowed them to be effective advocates and compassionate lawyers. During 1L, it is easy to get caught up in legal doctrine and theory. So I was glad that I started off my 2L year as a clinical student at HIRC, where I was reminded that lawyering is ultimately about helping people.
Q: Did the clinic help you to grow professionally and/or personally?
A: HIRC helped me grow personally and professionally in so many ways. I learned how to interact with expert witnesses and psychologists to bolster my cases, the importance of being detail oriented and critical of my work to spot inconsistencies that would hurt my clients’ case, and many strategies for how to properly navigate the lawyer-client relationship when trauma is involved. I also learned how to better control my own emotions when dealing with such sensitive cases.
Q: Did your time at the clinic influence or change your post-grad plans or long-term dreams?
A: My time at HIRC definitely shaped my future career plans. When I came in to law school, I was interested in two fields: immigration and transitional justice. Through my work at HIRC, I realized that I found it satisfying and motivating to meet with my clients on a regular basis and help them achieve a discrete legal objective. Moreover, the clients at HIRC are truly extraordinary people – they have been through so much in their home country yet they remain optimistic about their future. I wasn’t able to experience as much client interaction in my transitional justice work.
Q: What’s next?
A: For next year, I received a fellowship to work at ProBAR Children’s Project in Harlingen, Texas, representing detained unaccompanied minors. There has been a recent surge in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. In 2014, it is projected that 60,000 unaccompanied minors will enter the U.S (up from about 7,000 in 2008). Importantly, while 40% of these minors are eligible for some form of legal relief to remain in the country, only 7% of them are represented by a lawyer. With the recent surge, I anticipate that next year will be hectic and overwhelming. But I am looking forward to learning a lot and serving a greatly underserved community.
Thank you Marina- we wish you the best with your work next year in Texas!