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Elizabeth Knowles ’12 Returns to San Diego as Director of ABA Immigration Project

June 20, 2013

Elizabeth Knowles

Elizabeth Knowles ’12 has made a triumphant homecoming to San Diego after spending nearly six months in a litigation-intensive associate position at a Seattle immigration law firm.

“I am thrilled to return as the new Director of the ABA Immigration Justice Project (IJP), a public interest organization that I care very much about,” Knowles said.

She began working at the ABA Immigration Justice Project during her second year of law school as a legal intern and was later hired on as their Legal Orientation paralegal during her 3L year.

“The IJP provided me with a challenging, human-focused legal experience,” said Knowles. “It required collaboration with other community organizations and exposed me to the exciting and ever-changing landscape of immigration law, specifically in the detention context. This is where my passion for immigration law and serving detained, indigent non-citizens truly took shape. My work at the IJP as a law student served as the subject of my research and writing for the Law Review and later informed my practice as a member of the private bar.”

The IJP is the only legal services provider in San Diego County that provides Legal Orientation Programs to all immigrants in removal (deportation) proceedings.

“Our legal staff presents in-depth explanations of people’s rights and remedies to groups of men and women at the immigration detention facility in Otay Mesa and Immigration Court in downtown San Diego,” Knowles said. “Additionally, the IJP pairs indigent immigrants with pro bono counsel for direct representation at the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We coordinate various training sessions throughout the year, including the Model Hearing Program, which is led by local Immigration Judges. The IJP’s third and newest component is its Mental Health Program which focuses on identifying and providing assistance for detained immigrants who suffer from mental illness.”

One of the best things about Knowles’ new position is being back in San Diego again.

I missed California’s diversity, cuisine, speed limits, and inarguably superior weather!,” said Knowles. “Seattle is a” great city (to visit), but I’m happy to be back in the sunshine amongst my friends, great beaches, and a community that I love. I’m also newly married (Todd and I had our wedding up in Washington just before we moved), which makes our new beginning in San Diego even sweeter!”

And Knowles is very grateful to have this opportunity in a field of law that she loves.

“I feel very fortunate to serve as director of this instrumental, ground-breaking organization and I’m thrilled to be part of the San Diego legal community again. To my delight, I have already been contacted by many of my colleagues from TJSL who are interested in attending our trainings and taking a case on a pro bono basis. It continues to be my belief that public service is an enriching, worthwhile commitment and catalyst for personal and professional growth. Keep an eye out for our CLE offerings, events, and pro bono opportunities throughout the year!”