Introducing RIS Law Clerk: Mikhayla Stover

What type of work do you do at CLINIC?

Right now, I’m a law clerk for Religious Immigration Services, or RIS. This means I help the section’s attorneys with case prep, legal research and other tasks! I recently graduated from law school, and hopefully this fall, I will receive confirmation of a successful bar score, receive my law license and transition to a staff attorney. (Please pray for me!)

Where did you work/what were you doing before joining CLINIC?

Before joining CLINIC, I was a full-time law student at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law here in D.C. I graduated in May and joined CLINIC in September.

How did you become interested in immigration?

In April 2018, while attending the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and about a month before I graduated with my B.A., there was a very large immigration raid in a nearby town called Morrisville, Tenn. The raid caused a lot of strife. The local Catholic church — St. Patrick’s — really stepped up to support the immigrant community following the raid. Within hours, they opened their doors for families and began massing volunteers and connecting those affected with lawyers. Not just the fallout of that raid, but the incredible example of Catholic virtue and service I saw at St. Patrick’s inspired me to go into the immigration field. I’ve been doing this type of work ever since.

What do you like most about working in religious immigration law?

It’s very meaningful to me to be able to help religious workers come to the United States. I especially love that I get to help so many priests and religious workers. As a Catholic myself, I love knowing that I played even a tiny part in the Church’s work spreading the Gospel in the United States.

What do you wish other people had told you before you took the role?

How much fun it is, actually! I think sometimes, doing legal work, especially in the immigration field and especially as a clerk, a lot of people in the field describe it as hard or draining work, but I have really enjoyed it. There’s something I just find very intrinsically satisfying about it.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring law clerk working in the immigration field, what would it be?

I think I would tell somebody aspiring to be a law clerk to develop the skill of being able to be gracious — with your colleagues and clients, but also with yourself. At the end of the day, everybody including you is trying their best. And when mistakes happen, or you feel stressed by something, the best thing to do is to be gracious and accept that it happened and then work towards fixing the mistake or easing the stress!

What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

I think the most fulfilling part for me is being able to help others in a very real, practical way. So often, especially with immigration, we hear of these problems or these stories where people struggle, and it’s frustrating to not be able to do anything about it. So, it feels nice to be able to use my skills and talents to relieve people of the burden of sorting through our massively complex immigration system. Together, we can make sure they are able to come to the United States and continue their ministry.