This year, with the launch of IRAP’s Alumni Association, we’re thrilled to bring you a new Alumni Spotlight series! On our website and in our quarterly newsletter (make sure to join our mailing list!), we’ll be regularly featuring former IRAP students who have become strong advocates and leaders in their fields of practice. Each Alumni Spotlight will take the form of a Q&A.
Our first featured alumna is Priya Lane, who worked with IRAP as a law student at Northeastern and now directs the economic justice project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice (LCCREJ).
Read on to see how Priya’s work with IRAP has informed her career!
How did you become involved with IRAP and how did IRAP impact your law school experience?
I became involved with IRAP when I was a 2L. I saw a flyer for an info session. A 3L had a friend involved with the group and had wanted to start one at Northeastern. I signed up at that first meeting and was assigned to an SIV case, a former translator who worked with the American military and was now in danger because of that work. That summer I transitioned into being one of the coordinators for the group in my 3L year. I also had the pleasure of knowing that we successfully secured a visa for our client, who is currently living safely in America.
IRAP was a huge part of my law school experience. I loved being able to feel like I was directly helping people while still a student. In some ways, unlike a structured clinic, IRAP gives students real insight over what it is like to practice. Troubleshooting ways to speak to your client or submit documents are some issues that attorneys face all the time.
IRAP has a unique model of partnering law students with pro bono lawyers — please describe your experience working with attorneys on urgent refugee resettlement cases.
One of the things I loved most about my experience with IRAP was that it afforded me the opportunity to work closely with pro bono attorneys. Both as a student working on a case and as a coordinator later, I was constantly inspired by how much passion these incredibly busy attorneys had for the work. Additionally, I always felt that they had trust in the students to take the lead on aspects of the work while always being there to provide guidance.
What have you been doing since you graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 2013?
Since graduating, I have been working at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice (LCCREJ). I am currently the director of our economic justice project, where we assist minority and immigrant owned small businesses with the legal and business issues they need to succeed. Like IRAP, LCCREJ has a unique model of working in partnership with pro bono attorneys on all of our cases and issue areas.
In what ways has your involvement with IRAP in law school impacted your career?
A lot of the skills I developed working with pro bono attorneys has helped me in my career. I came in to this work used to the dynamics involved with working with pro bono attorneys, which was beneficial in helping me hit the ground running at LCCREJ. Working with IRAP also remains one of the things that I point to as great work that I was able to do as a law student. IRAP gives law students the ability to say that they had real ownership over a client’s case even before graduating law school, which is a huge plus in any sort of legal employment scenario.
The world is currently facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Why is IRAP’s work — mission and model — so important?
IRAP’s mission and model are both crucial factors in today’s society. IRAP’s mission is necessary as part of a larger effort to combat a lot of the ills we face. Like the work we do at LCCREJ fighting Islamophobia and general misconceptions around immigrants and immigration, IRAP’s mission of helping to secure the rights of refugees and educate the public about their plight can make a big difference in easing the burden that these families feel.
IRAP’s model is also crucial. Engaging the private bar in substantive pro bono issues is a great way to mobilize a larger force of attorneys all over the country. Like at LCCREJ where we create pro bono opportunities for firm attorneys, IRAP successfully inspires attorneys from all fields of law to give back and convinces them that they can make a difference to ease this crisis.