Joanna Martin has been one of our most engaged student leaders, always busy organizing events and looking for opportunities to build community at Chicago-Kent. Her work with student organizations and immigration programs has helped build her legal skills and connections. We’re happy to share more of her background and current projects in this profile.
- Class year: 2019
- Division: Full-time day
- Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
- Academic Background: B.A. in political science and prelaw from Mount Saint Mary’s University
- Social media: LinkedIn
Over her spring break this year, Joanna was part of the Immigration Law Society team that traveled to Dilley, Texas, to help women and children prepare for asylum interviews.
This summer, she is one of three Chicago-Kent students who received a Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Summer Fellowship. She is working for the Esperanza Project, which provides direct representation to detained women and children in removal proceedings who are unable to afford legal representation.
Joanna recently co-wrote an article for the Take Care blog with Professor Carolyn Shapiro, addressing the history of immigration law for families:
By Carolyn Shapiro & Joanna Martin: Separating parents from their children without regard for the children’s rights and interests is unconstitutional @ChicagoKentLaw https://t.co/jxT5FGf5bR
— Take Care (@ShallTakeCare) June 20, 2018
What drew you to the legal profession & law school?
When I was young, I was able to see the deep injustices that exist in our society and quickly realized that one of the most significant ways to create change is through the legal profession. That is what initially drew me to law school and continues to be a driving force in my career.
Some of the organizations Joanna has worked with and opportunities she’s had so far during her time as a student at Chicago-Kent:
- Public Interest Law Intern, National Immigrant Justice Center
- Legal Extern, Federal Defenders
- Translator for Illinois Legal Aid Online
- Law Clerk, Orleans Public Defenders
- Self-Help Web Center
Do you have a favorite professor or class that has confirmed or changed your goals in coming to Chicago-Kent? If so, how?
Professor Marder’s Class titled Law, Literature, and Feminism was an extremely influential class for me. Through the reading and class discussion, we were able to explore the strengths and limitations we still face in the legal arena when it comes to gender equality. Although it is important to note how far we have come with both gender and racial equality, we do have a ways to go. This class made me feel optimistic about the fight for gender and racial equality.
Are you focusing your studies on a particular area of law or pursuing a certificate? If so, what?
I am working towards a public interest law certificate and have a specific emphasis in immigration law.
What do you hope to do with the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Summer Fellowship this summer?
The immigrant community is one of the most disenfranchised communities in the United States, and I hope to create relationships with my clients that provide them with a sense of hope in the future of their cases. Moreover, I hope to learn more about holistic approaches to public interest work and how those function. Finally, I hope to learn about immigrants’ principal concerns so that I can build my career around addressing these issues.
I am particularly interested in the overlap between mental health issues and the immigrant community, as a large portion of Esperanza’s clients are referred to the project after proving competency concerns. I hope to learn more about addressing the needs of smaller marginalized groups within already disenfranchised communities. My work will help keep families together and will allow immigrants to stay in the United States to continue improving themselves, and by extension, our communities and nation.
I know that through my experience at Esperanza Immigrants’ Rights Project, as well as my past work experience with the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Chicago Federal Defender, and my knowledge attained at Chicago-Kent, I will be able to further social and legal change throughout my career in public interest.
- Immigration Law Society — President 2018-2019, Vice President 2017-2018
- Hispanic Latino Law Student Association (HLLSA) — President 2018-2019, Social Media Chair 2017-2018
- Journal of International and Comparative Law (JICL) — Executive Submissions Editor 2018-2019, Associate Editor 2017-2018
- American Constitution Society for Law & Policy (ACSLP) — Social Director, 2017-2018
- The Round Table — Vice President, 2017-2018
- Student Humanitarian Network — Vice President, 2017-2108
- Student Alumni Board — 2017-Present
- BARBRI Representative — 2017-Present
What made you want to get involved in these roles?
I have always thought involvement at school was very important. Seeing as we spend so much of our time as law students at school, I think it’s important to feel included.
What contribution do you hope to make as a student leader?
I hope my leadership helps Chicago-Kent be a very inclusive, open-minded, and culturally competent place. I think the best way to do this is through student organizations, by making sure that every student has a place where they feel that they belong.
Beyond Law School
What do you do to relax outside of school?
Kickboxing, traveling, reading, listening to podcasts, exploring the city, photography.
What is your favorite way to enjoy Chicago?
My favorite way to explore is by trying new food and coffee places. I usually make a day of it by walking around new areas and exploring.