This was originally published on William & Mary Law School’s website on August 19th, 2020.
William & Mary Law School’s Immigration Clinic is excited to announce that J. Nicole Alanko J.D. ’18 has joined the Clinic as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow. Alanko is joining the Clinic after two years as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow at Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project, the immigration unit of the nation’s largest victims’ services agency, in Brooklyn, NY.
“Nicole’s appointment is wonderful news for our growing, and increasingly indispensable, Immigration Clinic,” said A. Benjamin Spencer, Dean of the Law School and Chancellor Professor. “The clinic’s work with direct representation, outreach, policy research, and advocating for noncitizens navigating the immigration process is vital to the Law School’s pursuit of social justice and inclusion.”
At Safe Horizon, Alanko represented survivors of crime, gender-based violence, and torture in their immigration matters both in affirmative filings before the Department of Homeland Security, and in Immigration Court before the Department of Justice. In addition to her casework, she was involved in Safe Horizon’s anti-racism policy initiatives, trained pro bono attorneys for days of service, and drafted a response on behalf of Safe Horizon to sweeping changes to asylum regulations.
As a Fellow in the Immigration Clinic, Alanko will share her expertise and work closely with William & Mary law students to serve immigrants in Hampton Roads. Immigrants do not have the right to counsel in Immigration Court, even when they face deportation. Moreover, a great deal of immigration advocacy happens outside the courtroom, making legal representation vital for immigrants petitioning the Department of Homeland Security. The Immigration Clinic fills this representation gap for individuals and families in Hampton Roads who may not otherwise have access to legal services.
“The Clinic is incredibly grateful for this partnership with the Immigrant Justice Corps and for the private philanthropy that is making possible this Fellowship at William & Mary Law,” said Stacy Kern-Scheerer, Director of the Immigration Clinic. “Nicole is a remarkable attorney who is uniquely situated to return to William & Mary Law as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow. Her Fellowship will have a direct impact on the students’ development as skilled, committed advocates and on the lives of the individuals and communities supported by the Clinic.”
The first and only fellowship of its kind, Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) identifies promising lawyers and advocates passionate about immigration, places them with organizations where they can make the greatest difference, and supports them with training and expert insights as they directly assist immigrants in need. Since its inception in 2014, more than 200 IJC Fellows have provided representation in more than 33,300 legal matters and assisted more than 75,000 low-income immigrants and their families with a success rate of 92 percent on cases completed. There are currently 82 Fellows serving in 11 states and 33 cities across the United States. William & Mary Law is particularly honored, as Alanko is the first Third-Year Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow to serve in a law school clinic.
Alanko received her B.A. in International Affairs (summa cum laude) from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in 2015 and J.D. from William & Mary Law School in 2018, where she received the Benjamin Stoddert Ewell Award from outstanding leadership and public service, as well as the National Association of Women Lawyers Award.
While a student at William & Mary, Alanko served in the Domestic Violence Law Clinic and Family Law Clinic. She also volunteered with the Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council and the James City County Alliance on Violence Against Women. Her first legal internship in immigration law was made possible by the Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding Summer Internship Program.
She is also dedicated to academic and research excellence. While at William & Mary, Alanko served as the Executive Editor of the William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice. After graduation, her research on undocumented survivors of domestic violence was published in the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal in 2019, and she has a forthcoming Article on due process in asylum proceedings in the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Law and Social Change.