International Refugee Assistance Project


The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid, litigation, and systemic advocacy, IRAP serves the world's most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders.

Since its founding in 2008, IRAP has helped resettle over 4000 refugees and their families to 18 different countries and has trained over 2000 law students and lawyers in the process. NYU is one of IRAP's 30 student chapters across the United States and Canada. More information on IRAP National can be found here.

Contact Co-Chairs Daniel Lee, and Siena Cornacchini, for more information.

Student Advocacy

IRAP's Student Advocacy program matches teams of 2-3 law students with supervising attorneys who have volunteered to work pro bono. Together, the student advocates and supervising attorneys take on the case of a refugee or refugee family seeking resettlement in the United States. Most refugees or refugee families are Iraqi and are currently located in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, or Iraq. Some refugees are applying for resettlement for the first time and others are appealing their rejection. Students -- with the support of the supervising attorneys, IRAP-NYU Case Managers, and regular training sessions -- handle the case from start to finish. As a result, IRAP provides students a unique opportunity to gain real legal and client experience within a supportive framework. Typical work includes:

  • Preparing client interview questions and interviewing clients 
  • Submitting a Freedom of Information Act request 
  • Drafting affidavits
  • Crafting case strategy
  • Gathering supporting evidence 
  • Conducting legal research
  • Drafting the application or appeal brief.

Student Advocates make a commitment to an individual – and, oftentimes a family – living in volatile and challenging circumstances. IRAP advocates are often a refugee's last hope for resettlement in the United States and the U.S. government often takes months (if not years) to process resettlement requests. As a result, IRAP asks each student advocate to commit to her client until the case is closed or until she graduates from law school, whichever occurs first. (Students are, of course, welcome to continue working on their cases after graduation.)

Projects Team

Student volunteers can also participate in the recently launched Projects Team. Students have the opportunity to assist with a variety of different client-facing and research-based projects. Ideas for projects come from both students and IRAP National. Examples of projects include immigration court monitoring and holding one-day clinics.

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) trip

Members of IRAP's NYU chapter have the opportunity to travel to the Middle East during Spring Break to meet with clients and learn more about the refugee process. Past trips have included travel to Amman and Beirut. In Jordan, members attend trainings about the challenges faced by refugees, meet with refugee assistance organizations and conduct client meetings and interviews. At the end of the trip there are opportunities to travel to Petra and the Dead Sea. More details on this year's trip will be available as the year progresses.

The content on student group pages is created by each group and does not constitute official statements or views of NYU Law.