Our Model

IRAP delivers legal solutions for displaced people through an innovative virtual public interest law firm powered by our staff and a network of student advocates, pro bono partners, and supporters around the globe. Together, we use technological solutions to transcend borders and deliver free high-quality legal aid to displaced people on the move. At the same time, we work with our clients to identify common obstacles and urgent needs during the journey to safety that can be addressed through legal challenges and policy changes.

IRAP’s approach is grounded in distinct but interrelated strategies:

IRAP deploys an in-person and remote legal aid model with offices in the U.S., Lebanon, Jordan, and Germany to provide vital legal representation to people living in, and fleeing from, violence and persecution around the world. 

Through impact litigation and systemic advocacy, IRAP advocates for improved refugee law and policy, including expanded rights and pathways to safety for displaced people around the world. We leverage the courts to challenge refugee rights violations and we push for solutions to overcome the legal and bureaucratic impediments that keep people from reaching safety. In doing so, we seek to develop an enforceable system of legal and procedural rights for refugees and displaced persons worldwide. We then advocate for systemic changes addressing those obstacles in order to benefit broader displaced populations. 

Finally, we have engaged a cadre of volunteers—2,100 students from 29 law schools in the United States and Canada and pro bono attorneys from dozens of  international law firms and multinational corporations—to assist thousands of forced migrants on urgent cases and long-term systemic issues. 


In 2008, the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project was formed to assist refugees through the provision of legal aid, in response to the needs and concerns expressed by Iraqi refugees suffering from persecution, discrimination, and intense poverty. To assist refugees seeking safety, five students founded IRAP as an extracurricular organization in law school: one was a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; another was a journalist who had reported from Iraq; three others had worked with refugees. They identified experienced attorneys willing to work pro bono and paired them with law students who could provide the legwork and research needed to pursue individual cases. This launched IRAP’s model of engaging pro bono teams to provide direct legal representation to refugees overseas who had never before had access to counsel.

IRAP began by helping refugee families displaced by the Iraq War to navigate the bureaucratic and seemingly interminable resettlement process. In 2015, IRAP rebranded as the International Refugee Assistance Project to more accurately reflect the critical legal advocacy work we perform on behalf of displaced people around the world. 

From 2010 to 2018, IRAP was a project of the Urban Justice Center, an umbrella social justice advocacy organization that serves as an incubator for fledgling organizations. As of December 23, 2018, the International Refugee Assistance Project is officially an independent 501(c)(3) organization.

What began as a student organization with one chapter, five students, and three pro bono attorneys has grown into a leading international organization affecting change for thousands of vulnerable people worldwide. Since our inception, IRAP has expanded to assist displaced people from over 70 countries. We have offices in the United States (New York City and Washington, D.C.); Beirut, Lebanon; Amman, Jordan; and Berlin, Germany.

Who We Serve

As a virtual public interest law firm with offices and pro bono partners around the globe, IRAP transcends borders to deliver free, high-quality legal services to displaced people, no matter where they live.