Michael Kagen of UNLV Boyd School of Law Immigration Clinic
Michael received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. He now directs the Immigration Clinic at UNLV and teaches administrative law, professional responsibility, international human rights and immigration law. Before taking the position at UNLV, he worked in the Middle East for ten years developing legal aid programs for refugees from Sudan, Iraq Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. During his first year out of law school, he started a program in a loft above an Anglican Church in Cairo, Egypt where were trained educated Sudanese refugees to help other Sudanese refugees to prepare their cases for refugee protection and resettlement.
Under his direction, the Immigration Clinic trains student attorneys to represent people in complex deportation cases, innovates new ways to offer legal advice and representation to under served people in immigration proceedings, and seeks to be a catalyst to expand legal services for the most at-risk indigent immigrants in Nevada. He also consults with the Clark County Public Defender on immigration considerations for non-citizen defendants in criminal cases.
When we asked Michael why he does pro bono work, he responded “At the Immigration Clinic, all of our work is pro bono. I’ve been a client of free legal services at points in my life when I would have had trouble affording it. I just think access to justice is a right, no matter how much money people have.”
When times get tough, Michael remembers a Sudanese refugee he represented who was able to escape from Egypt. The day before his client got on the plane, his client gave him a hug and said, “You’ve given my children a better life.” This was one of the most powerful things anyone has ever told him as a thank you.
For his commitment to representing clients with immigration issues, we honor Michael Kagan as the January Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month.