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Law student home from Harvard

By Katie Weiss

Law student Caitlin Marshall is back from an internship at Harvard University Law student Caitlin Marshall is back from an internship at Harvard University

The first Charles Darwin University law student to take part in a Harvard University scholarship intern program has sharpened her skills in immigration and refugee law.

Caitlin Marshall worked in a close-knit team of legal experts, lawyers and fellow interns during the four-week Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical (HIRC) Program in Boston, United States.

Along with other immigration matters, the team worked directly with clients applying for asylum in the USA, and had upcoming interviews with asylum officers or hearings at the Boston Immigration Court.

“Such legal processes decide these people’s futures in the United States,” Caitlin said.

“While at times professionally and emotionally challenging, the whole experience was also incredibly rewarding, stimulating and thought-provoking.”

Caitlin was tasked with gaining clients’ trust and encouraging them to share personal experiences in order to translate their story into a legal account to fulfil the legal tests required under the US Torture and Refugee Conventions. 

“Building a rapport with the client, and asking difficult questions about their past, culture, beliefs and tragedies were obstacles that challenged me professionally and personally,” she said.

“This is, however, a necessity of the job. To build a case, draw from the client their story and translate it into a legal representation of why they cannot be returned to their home country.”

Caitlin also assisted the clinic by creating a guide that included relevant information for future interns and a database of country experts often required to provide and support asylum cases.

The scholarship was sponsored by CDU in cooperation with the HIRC following negotiations led by CDU law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam, who has presented refugee law research papers at HIRC.

The HIRC has operated for 30 years with a focus on providing direct representation for people applying for asylum in the USA along with survivors of domestic violence and other crimes.