McGeorge Immigration Clinic Celebrates 20 Years
This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the McGeorge Immigration Clinic, an on-campus legal clinic where law students provide in-depth legal assistance on immigration matters to clients in the Sacramento area. The clinic was founded in 2000 by well-respected local immigration attorney Michael M. Considine, who passed away in 2019.
According to Marién Sorensen, an attorney at Considine, Sorensen & Trujillo, the firm founded by Considine, the clinic grew out of a need for more nonprofits in Sacramento that assisted low-income immigrants. “There was very little pro bono assistance at the time,” recalls Sorensen, “Michael believed that legal services should be accessible to everyone--starting the clinic meant a lot to him.”
A grandchild of Irish immigrants, Considine graduated from McGeorge in 1986 and had strong ties to the Latino community. He served as the clinic’s first supervising attorney and taught Immigration Law at the school for 3 years. “Michael was a kind, good-hearted person—committed to providing community service to immigrants,” says Sorensen. “I think he would be very proud of everything the clinic has accomplished so far.”
In addition to its regular caseload, the clinic has helped more than 1,200 applicants for naturalization and DACA through 11 annual immigration fairs. Each year, approximately 15 McGeorge law students participate in the immigration clinic and many of those students have gone on to practice immigration law in California and around the world. According to Griselda Trujillo, an attorney at Considine, Sorensen & Trujillo and a former supervising attorney of the clinic from 2007-2009, students are the heart of the clinic.
“Students were so excited to get a one-on-one, hands-on experience,” recalls Trujillo. “Many times they had never worked with a client or in a law office.” Trujillo states that clinic alumni still reach out to her for advice. “I loved working with the students,” says Trujillo, “they had so much good energy. It was a privilege to connect students with clients and help them develop their skills.”
Over the years, the Immigration Clinic has expanded to serve even more people. Initially, the Immigration Clinic focused on victims of crime visas and family-based immigration. Under the guidance of current supervising attorney, Professor Blake Nordahl, the clinic has expanded services to include representation of asylum seekers, vulnerable children, and individuals in removal proceedings. The clinic has also expanded to three attorneys, including staff attorney Kishwer Vikaas and professor emeritus Julie Davies, which provides a robust learning environment for students.
“The clinic students’ dedication to their clients is inspiring,” says Nordahl. “It is an honor to play a part in the journey of a law student developing their professional identity as they take on the responsibility and privilege of representing another human being. It is particularly satisfying to work with students as they see in practice how their legal skills can make a difference for their clients and their community.”