After a career in visual arts field, Andrew Freire JD ’23 takes on mantle of immigrant defense

Melissa Masatani • May 8, 2023
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Freire earns Immigrant Justice Corps Fellowship and will be working at Immigrant Defenders Law Center

Although Andrew Freire took a somewhat unconventional path to law school, his love for advocacy and public service is evident throughout his work. His career in the visual arts ignited a passion for advocacy, supporting artists and their work, while his time interpreting and translating for a tenants union further developed his interests.

Now, as a member of the JD Class of 2023, Freire has secured an Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Fellowship and will be working at Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef), a nonprofit social justice law firm started by fellow Gould alumna Lindsay Toczylowski JD ’08.

“I’m grateful to begin my legal career with IJC and ImmDef advocates because they both lead universal legal representation programs for children in immigration court and challenge our harsh immigration system in many ways,” Freire said. “Unaccompanied minors are uniquely disadvantaged in removal proceedings and other legal forms of relief. … With ImmDef and IJC’s programs, I hope to learn from their holistic strategies that can help minors feel supported and succeed in a new environment.”

Freire is only the third Gould graduate to have earned a spot as an IJC Fellow, a prestigious fellowship that goes to recent law graduates with a demonstrated commitment to providing immigration legal services.

In his time at Gould, Freire cites his work at the Immigration Clinic and the Housing Law and Policy Clinic as being pivotal experiences that guided his goals and shaped his enthusiasm for public interest work.

“My clinical professors Jean Reisz, Niels Frenzen, and Deepika Sharma all have modeled what it takes to provide strong legal advocacy within the court, and effectively support clients going through a challenging time,” Freire said. “I’ve also particularly enjoyed the Critical Race Theory course led by Ángel Díaz, which has provided me with frameworks to think about coalition work and attorneys’ role in movements for racial justice more broadly.”

“Andrew’s commitment and dedication to representing immigrants and defending immigrants’ rights was apparent from the beginning of my working with him,” said Reisz, clinical associate professor of law at Gould and co-director of the USC Immigration Clinic. “He managed an active caseload with multiple deadlines, and he did so diligently with a calm and capable demeanor inspiring trust and confidence from his supervisors, clients, and classmates.”

Outside of Gould, Freire continues fueling his creative side by working as a programming director for Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, a public archive and library for contemporary art-making. There he is able to remain active in the artist community and use his dual passions to promote artists and their work. He plans to continue balancing his shared interests after graduation, and post-Bar exam will travel to Bolivia to visit family before starting at ImmDef.

“I’m excited to further develop my advocacy in this field, and I also look forward to engaging more with the visual arts communities I worked with before entering law school,” Freire said.

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