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Student Experience

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Lawyering Skills

  • Conducting legal research and writing, drafting pleadings and motions, advocacy, interpersonal professional communication, problem-solving, client and witness interviewing and counseling, discovery, and litigation strategy.
  • Conducting research that navigates through federal and agency cases, statutes, and regulations to develop nuanced arguments in support of client's case.
  • Writing briefs for clients before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professionalism Practices

  • Collaborating, preparing and submitting work product, meeting deadlines, case management, and attorney ethics.

Engagement with Individual Clients

  • Counseling clients. With guidance from the professor, students analyze and discuss best options for avoiding deportation with their client.
  • Establishing rapport with their clients and building a client-centered attorney-client relationship.


During the 2018 Winter Break, Alvaro A. Manrique Barrenechea (LL.M. student), Eric A. Holness (M.Div. student) and Professor Karla McKanders (Vanderbilt Law School) left Nashville, TN for the U.S.-Mexico border. They would spend two days on the other side of the southern border, in Tijuana, with volunteers from other parts of the US. The hope was to bring some relief to organizations and volunteers in Mexico responding to the ongoing crisis with thousands of immigrants making their way from Central America as part of the migrant caravan. The work focused mostly in vulnerable population, such as women and children seeking asylum in the U.S. We volunteered by conducting "know your rights" presentations, conducting meetings and consultations with American-based immigration attorneys, among other relevant activities occurring at various sites throughout Tijuana.