Cooley-Ann Arbor to open immigration law clinic

 Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s curriculum committee has approved plans to open an immigrant rights and civil advocacy clinic at its Ann Arbor campus. 

The pro bono clinic is scheduled to open in January.

This will be Cooley’s eighth clinic in which students have the option to participate.

In Ann Arbor, Cooley has operated the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Clinic for 17 years. 

This will be the first in-house clinic at the Ann Arbor campus, 3475 Plymouth Road.

Under the supervision of Associate Professor Jason Eyster, Cooley students will meet with clients, who are immigrants in need of help with civil or immigration issues.

Eyster recently moved back to Michigan after working for Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla., where he supervised that school’s immigrant rights clinic. Before working for Ave Maria, Eyster specialized in immigration law in Ann Arbor.

“Jason Eyster brings a wealth of understanding in immigration law to Cooley,” said Joan Vestrand, associate dean at Cooley’s Ann Arbor campus. “His knowledge of immigrant law makes him the right fit for leading our efforts to serve the immigration population Washtenaw County. His hands-on approach will give our students exceptional experience in an underserved area of the law.”

The clinic will address a wide range of issues facing area immigrants from civil issues, such as landlord/tenant disputes and unfair wage claims, to laws regarding immigration status.

“In the United States, all individuals have certain protections regardless of their immigration status,” said Eyster. “Here in southeast Michigan, we have people from all over the world including Russia, China, Africa, and South America. Immigration law is a field that needs attorneys and I’m excited to offer my skills, not only to clients but to the students who will gain valuable experience by working in this clinic.”

Cooley officials met with lawyers, judges and community leaders in Washtenaw County to learn what pro bono legal services were most needed.

After several discussions, it was decided that the community has a need for an immigration law clinic that can also help immigrants with civil law issues, officials said.

 “It is a goal of Cooley to offer hands-on practical experience to our students,” said Ann Wood, Cooley’s associate dean of planning programs and assessment. “This clinic is designed to give students real life experience in an area of the law that is currently underserved locally as well as nationally.”

Individuals wishing to contact Cooley’s immigrant rights and civil advocacy clinic may do so by calling 734-372-4994.