LSU Law 2019 graduate Anne Lanier was recently honored with the Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award for her work at the Immigration Law Clinic as a volunteer, student clinician and research assistant/advanced student.
Before Lanier was even enrolled at the Immigration Law Clinic, the Houston native volunteered to assist clinicians with an Adjustment of Status Clinic. Volunteers and student clinicians interviewed refugees, asylees and Cuban-entrants, prepared their applications and organized their documents in order to equip them to apply for permanent resident status (also referred to as a green card). Anne’s professional yet kind manner with the clients was immediately apparent and only strengthened as her involvement at the clinic grew.
As a student clinician, Lanier responded to an email even before the semester began to assist with preparing six supplemental asylum filings (all longer than 500 pages). She worked tirelessly during the final days of winter break to prepare petitions and help clients get ready for their interviews before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. She attended and represented clients in two of these interviews, with both applicants gaining asylum as a result of her work.
She also prepared another full asylum petition from the skeletal application to the complex supplemental filing, including a brief that integrated newly changed asylum law relating to victims of domestic violence as well as an index of supporting documents and country conditions evidence. Finally, she successfully convinced an immigration court to reopen proceedings for a young woman previously ordered removed, and then completed her application for permanent residency.
Though Lanier started at the clinic with only a basic understanding of Spanish, she managed to communicate with her Spanish-speaking clients remarkably well. Though not required of her, she accompanied them to the Social Security Administration and the DMV on several occasions, advocating on their behalves to get them the documents they were due but were unable to obtain without assistance.
As a summer research assistant Lanier continued her extensive work, completing another full supplemental asylum filing and a complicated skeletal application. She also assisted four refugee/asylee families with resubmitting their permanent residency applications (all sixteen members of the four families later received green cards) and renewing their work authorization documents.
During the entirety of her 3L year, Lanier continued her work at the clinic as a research assistant. She assisted not only her professor and clients, but students currently enrolled in the clinic. She made herself available to them for whatever help they needed. Lanier fought the USCIS on any substantive or procedural errors they made that negatively affected her clients—usually successfully—and submitted at least four more permanent residency applications.
While studying for the bar, Lanier also took the time to attend an asylum interview with a former client. As anyone who has studied for the bar can tell you, that’s true dedication.
All of Lanier’s hard work was outstanding, but what made her truly remarkable was her attitude. She never complained about the workload, or that her clinic work got in the way of her other responsibilities or personal life. Lanier was game for every task presented to her and did not balk at any challenge. While remaining professional, she also developed genuine and meaningful relationship with her colleagues and some of her clients, whom trusted her completely. Though knowing she was a student, her clients nonetheless referred to her as “Abogada Ana” or “Attorney Anne.” To say that she had a significant impact on the immigrant community in Baton Rouge is an understatement.
Lanier graduated from the LSU Law Center on May 24 with a Juris Doctor and Graduate Diploma in Comparative Law. She was also a member of the Board of Advocates.
Law schools may nominate only one student for the Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award. CLEA created the award to honor students who have excelled in a clinical course, and students are evaluated on the following:
- Excellence in the field work component of the clinical course, determined by the quality of the student’s performance in assisting or representing individual or organizational clients, or in undertaking advocacy, community development, education or policy reform projects;
- Excellence in the seminar component of the clinical course, determined by the quality of the student’s thoughtfulness and self-reflection in exploring the legal, ethical, strategic, professional and other pertinent issues raised in the particular clinic; and
- The nature and extent of the student’s contribution to the clinical community at the student’s law school, if relevant.