3L Emily Heger to help asylum-seeking families post-graduation

Emily Heger
Emily Heger, Class of 2019

Congratulations to Emily Heger, class of 2019, for receiving the Equal Justice Works Fellowship. She will work at Human Rights Initiative of North Texas for the next two years focusing on the intersection of domestic violence and asylum.


Seventy-six aspiring public interest lawyers will spend the next two years serving at legal services organizations across the nation to increase equal access to justice for communities in need.

The 2019 class of Fellows received sponsorship from 75 law firms, corporations, foundations, and individual donors committed to improving access to our justice system nationwide.Hosted by:   Human Rights Initiative of North Texas


Emily Heger Fellowship Information

Sponsored by: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and AT&T
Service location:  Dallas, Texas
Issue area:  Domestic Violence
Fellowship class year:  2019
Program:  Design Your Own Fellowship


The Project
Emily will represent survivors of gender-based violence seeking asylum in the United States while broadening the precedent of our nation’s asylum law as well as, educating the immigrant and legal communities and mobilizing a nationwide collective of pro bono attorneys.

Women around the world are victim to gender-based violence in countries that offer impunity to the perpetrators. Survivors of gender-based violence often seek safety and refuge in the United States, but currently their rights are under assault and their legal remedies are seemingly deteriorating. In Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), home to 1.2 million immigrants, not a single organization has been able to place a pro bono gender-based violence asylum case since this area of law has become so complex. And, DFW is not an anomaly. Emily’s project will fill a gap in services that is critical for both the survivors and our nation’s immigration law.

Emily made a commitment to dedicate her career fighting for the safety of the tens of thousands of women who are victims of domestic abuse in countries that offer them no hope of protection or justice. While working as the COO of Akola Project – a non-profit that empowers women to realize and walk in their own agency as change makers – Emily learned that the most marginalized women are typically migrants. Her passion for serving immigrant and refugee women was cemented as she worked to adapt Akola’s model to best impact this population.

Fellowship Plan
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI) is the only organization in DFW providing pro bono legal services for asylum seekers. Since Matter of A.B., HRI has been unable to place domestic violence (DV) cases with pro bono attorneys. Emily’s project will fill a gap in services that is critical for both DV survivors and our nation’s immigration law by focusing on three areas. First, Emily will directly represent survivors of DV seeking asylum. Second, Emily will challenge the narrowed interpretation of “particular social group.” Third, she will equip the legal services community to represent DV asylum seekers.


Read more about Emily Heger. 


Read more about the Class of 2019 Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program.