Benach Collopy Asylum Summer Fellowship 2017

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The Benach Collopy Asylum Summer Fellowship 2017

I have been so lucky to get to know so many brave, hard-working, family-oriented, and generous people from all over the globe.  They all shared one thing in common: a willingness to take a chance to come to the U.S. to be the person they knew they were meant to be.

-Ava Benach

Description of Fellowship

Surging violence against transgender and gender nonconforming communities worldwide continue to force a record number of individuals to seek protection at U.S. borders and points of entry.  Many of these people qualify for asylum based on past persecution, but encounter difficulties navigating the complex U.S. immigration system.  The Benach Collopy Fellowship offers the opportunity for an outstanding law student to work side by side with transgender asylum seekers to vindicate their rights and access the legal process in a way that is supportive and affirming.

The Fellowship offers a $5,000 stipend for a 10-week full-time summer internship in Washington, DC during the summer of 2017.

Under the supervision of expert asylum attorneys at Benach Collopy and the Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services Program, the Fellow will represent transgender asylum seekers fleeing persecution based on gender identity.  The fellow will work closely with clients at Benach Collopy LLP and Whitman-Walker Health, both located in Northwest DC.  Whitman-Walker Health is a medical-legal partnership dedicated to providing appropriate trans-affirming services.   

The Fellow will work directly with clients, carrying active caseloads for filing to USCIS and the Immigration Court under the supervision of experienced attorneys.    


  • Current enrollment in an ABA-accredited law school
  • Availability for full-time, ten week term during the summer of 2017
  • Previous experience working with LGBTI or HIV communities, immigrants, and/or survivors of trauma
  • Spanish oral and written fluency
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and in a team setting
  • Demonstrated commitment to legal services and/or public interest law
  • Experience working with an ethnically, culturally and racially diverse work staff preferred; ability to work harmoniously with diverse groups of individuals
  • Excellent legal research skills, with the ability to grasp complex facts and legal issues
  • Demonstrated ability to exercise sound judgment
  • Ability to work quickly, independently, and responsibly, with close attention to detail and strong organizational skills
  • Ability to conduct sensitive, empathetic interviews that respect the dignity and diversity of clients
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with the ability to work comfortably with clients, volunteers and staff of diverse backgrounds
  • Ability to maintain client records and information in an accurate, timely and confidential manner
  • Willingness and ability to work effectively with computerized intake, record-keeping and case management systems

How to Apply

Submit all applications via email only to Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services Program Attn: Cori Alonso-Yoder,, with the subject line “Benach Collopy Fellowship Application.” Applications must include a cover letter, resume, and list of three professional references.  Please describe your interest in the issues addressed by the Fellowship and specify your desired start and end dates.

Deadlines: Applications must be received by April 30, 2017, but applicants are encouraged to apply early for full consideration.  Position will remain open until filled.

Transgender, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming individuals are encouraged to apply.

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