Students in Georgia Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic win Board of Immigration Appeals case on behalf of asylum-seeker from Russia

Four students in the University of Georgia School of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic have just secured asylum relief for a Russian client, and in so doing earned hands-on experience in practicing law in today’s interconnected world.

The client, Rim Iakovlev, is a Jehovah’s Witness who had fled to the United States after a ruling by the Russian Supreme Court outlawed his religion. A U.S. immigration judge granted his petition for asylum. But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security appealed. It was at this point that the Board of Immigration Appeals, through its pro bono project, appointed Georgia Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic to represent asylum-seeker Iakovlev. The Board is an administrative appellate agency within the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice.

Drafting the brief in the case, under supervision by Professor Thomas V. Burch, Director of the Appellate Litigation Clinic, were four Georgia Law students: 3Ls Wade H. Barron, C. Daniel Lockaby, and Sarah A. Quattrocchi, and 2L Addison Smith. Their brief stressed consistencies in the accounts given by Iakovlev and his wife, and also refuted the DHS contention that the asylum-seeker was obliged to present a letter from his congregation attesting to his status as a Jehovah’s Witness.

Upon reading the parties’ briefs, the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the immigration judge’s decision to grant Iakovlev’s petition for asylum. DHS chose not to appeal the Board’s decision, so that Iakovlev was released from detention last week.

Update from Nigeria: attorney Chukwudi Ofili, LLM Class of 2018, reflects on his post-graduation year

This is one in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law LLM students, writing on their participation in our LLM degree and about their post-graduate experiences. Author of this post is alumnus Chukwudi Ofili, a member of the Class of 2018.

Chudi photoIt has been an eventful year for me. In January 2018, during my last semester at the University of Georgia, I began a corporate in-house counsel externship – an experiential learning opportunity open to qualified Georgia Law LLM students – at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta There, I had the opportunity to work on issues such as cybersecurity, imports, and Office of Foreign Assets Control compliance.

Following graduation, I took the New York bar examination in July.  When I learned that I had passed, I was in London, participating in the highly selective International Lawyers For Africa (ILFA) 2018 Flagship Secondment Programme (IFSP), which each year places lawyers from various African jurisdictions at highly reputed international law firms and corporations for a period of three months. I was placed with Trinity International LLP, a niche project and corporate finance firm focusing on energy, infrastructure, resources, and industry. During my secondment, I worked on some international transactions, with focus on financing power and infrastructure projects across the African continent.

Chudi speechIFSP was an enriching and exciting experience. It included training programs and networking events that introduced the participants to some of the brightest minds in the international legal market, in diverse practice areas. In particular, the networking opportunities were immense and may not be replicated in our lives on such a scale. I was pleased to selected to deliver the valedictory address for the London IFSP cohort at the ILFA Gala Night, which marked the end of the program.

I am now happy to be back in Nigeria at Bloomfield Law Practice, in the Corporate, Securities, and Finance practice group. I was recently interviewed for an article in THISDAY Newspaper Nigeria Legal Personality of the Week. In the interview, I expressed my hopes for good prospects in 2019. The year is already off to a good start: I’ve just completed a co-authored article,  Recognition and Enforcement of Cross-Border Insolvency; Nigeria in Perspective.

I came to Georgia Law after working with my firm, Bloomfield Law Practice, having graduated with first-class honors from Babcock University in Nigeria. At Georgia Law, I was the recipient of a prestigious graduate research assistantship, and participated in the Business Law Society.

I will always recommend the Georgia Law LLM curriculum, as it is tailored to each student’s career goals; for example, preparing to sit for a U.S. bar exam, or pursuing a concentration. Plus, students come to find out that Athens (which is just about an hour away from Atlanta) is a lovely place for studies, with friendly people.