Working in immigration law on the defense side has involved a lot of working with clients who have gone through the worst possible experiences. Situations that are so bad that they have been forced to leave their home countries or been victimized and brutalized and are trying to navigate the legal immigration system.
As a part of my internship, I was able to spend a day receiving training for interacting with clients who have experienced trauma. Part of this training helped me to understand what may seem unresponsive, may actually be trauma responses. Behaviors like, not responding to emails, or dragging their feet on compiling documents for their petitions. This training was especially helpful for me working on asylum cases and doing intake applications with clients.
Working with clients who require an advanced level of care and sensitivity requires a lighter touch and a little extra empathy and understanding when it comes to communication. I felt inspired that organizations like the one I was able to work for, not only took this into consideration, but made sure that every single member of the staff received the same training.
I was able to put this training to good use when working with a client who was nonresponsive and filing for asylum from Jamaica. This was an overall sobering experience for me to hear their stories and why they were seeking asylum from a country that I grew up in. They were particularly nonresponsive, and after making a connection over the phone and listening to more about their current situation, building a rapport with this client, they were far more willing to provide me with the information and documentation that I needed to complete their application.
Building the skills to work in immigration law is an opportunity that I am extremely grateful for. Mainly because it is an opportunity for me to handle a person’s situation, state of mind and work with them to provide them with a better future through immigration. Now that I have more understanding and training with how to connect and facilitate communication with clients I am even more confident that I can continue on in the field of immigration after finishing law school.