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Karla McKanders

Clinical Professor of Law

Karla McKanders is starting Vanderbilt’s first Immigration Practice Clinic, in which students will represent indigent immigrants in humanitarian cases. Her scholarship focuses on immigration federalism and international systems for processing refugees. Professor McKanders directs the Immigration Clinic and teaches Refugee and Immigration Law. Her work has taken her throughout the U.S. and abroad teaching and researching the efficacy of legal institutions charged with processing migrants and refugees. In 2011, she received a Fulbright grant to lecture in Morocco at the University of Mohamad V. Professor McKanders regularly provides training to police officers and government officials on immigration law and consults with faculty, lawyers and nonprofit organizations in the Middle East and North Africa addressing disparities in access to justice faced by immigrant and refugee populations. Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty, Professor McKanders was a tenured associate professor of Law at University of Tennessee College of Law, where she directed the Law School’s Immigration Clinic. During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, she was a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinic, co-authoring with her students, amici curaie briefs on the federal immigration travel ban litigation in International Refugee Assistance Project ("IRAP") v. Trump (Fourth Circuit) and Pars Equality Center et. al. v. Trump (D.C. Cir.). Before she joined the law faculty at the University of Tennessee, she was a clinical teaching fellow at Villanova University School of Law in the Clinic for Asylum Refugee and Emigrant Services. Professor McKanders was a law clerk for Judge Damon J. Keith with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit after earning her law degree at Duke University. She has been cited as an authority on immigration and refugee law by such media outlets as Reuters, ABC News and Al-Jazeera.

Research Interests

Immigration, refugee law, human rights, civil rights, gender and the law

Representative Publications