Alison Lisi was able to enjoy law school to the fullest due to the Darrow Scholarship she received from Michigan Law. She took classes on immigration and refugee law, seized every pro bono opportunity she could to work on immigration cases, and participated in an externship at the Detroit Immigration Court.
"To me, being a Darrow Scholar meant having freedom—freedom to take whatever classes interested me most in law school, freedom from worrying about graduating law school with crushing debt, and freedom to pursue my dream of becoming an immigration attorney at a nonprofit legal services organization. Personally, my Darrow made law school a lighter, less stressful experience for me."
Today, Lisi is a staff immigration attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) in Brownsville, near the United States-Mexico border. TRLA is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services in practice areas such as economic and social justice, disaster assistance, domestic violence and family law, housing, individual rights, labor, public benefits, and victims' rights. Lisi represents low-income noncitizens, many of whom are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking. She helps them apply for affirmative immigration relief such as U visas, T visas, and lawful permanent residence through the Violence Against Women Act.
She also assists individuals who are facing removal or deportation proceedings. "Immigration cases can take a long time to be processed—with victories few and far between." Recently, however, Lisi did experience a victory when her client was able to obtain a T visa for victims of human trafficking. The client was a victim of human trafficking for more than a decade before escaping. Because her victimization was due to trafficking Lisi was able to assist her in obtaining legal status in the United States as well as a work permit.
Lisi always has been committed to social justice work. Prior to her tenure at TRLA, she spent her 1L and 2L summers as a legal intern with Lutheran Social Services' Immigration Legal Assistance Program and on the kids' team with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project.
Lisi remembers well how she was able to pursue her interests and goals without worrying about whether they would earn her enough money when she graduated. It was a relief, post-graduation, not to worry about debt and to have the freedom to pursue her interests. "My Darrow not only made me happier, it also made a big difference professionally, as it made me a much stronger candidate for my chosen career."
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