Michael Kagan

Michael Kagan

Co-Director of Immigration Clinic

Associate Professor of Law

Michael Kagan's image
Areas of expertise:

Administrative Law, Criminal Law, First Amendment, International Human Rights Law, Immigration Law, Professional Ethics


Michael Kagan brings a unique perspective to the study and practice of immigration law, having spent 10 years building legal aid programs for refugees throughout the Middle East and Asia. He has written several of the most widely cited articles in the fields of refugee and asylum law, which have been relied on by multiple federal courts of appeals, and by courts in Israel and New Zealand.

Prof. Kagan’s research on credibility assessment in asylum cases has “guided most subsequent research and analysis on the topic,” according to a 2012 commentary. His 2006 study of refugee status determination by the United Nations has been noted as the most frequently cited article in the history of the International Journal of Refugee Law. In his recent research, Prof. Kagan has focused on the intersection of immigration with criminal, and U.S. constitutional law. His recent writing been published by The Georgetown Law Journal, Washington University Law Review, Ohio State Law Journal, Texas International Law Journal, Michigan Journal of Law Reform and California Law Review, among others.

Prof. Kagan, in partnership with UNLV’s Fatma Marouf (Law) and Rebecca Gill (Political Science), is leading a major empirical study about how the federal courts adjudicate immigration appeals. This research has opened a window on how federal judges make high stakes decisions about whether to halt deportations, decisions that are rarely published and usually invisible to the public. In 2013, Profs. Kagan and Marouf were named Bellow Scholars by the Association of American Law Schools in honor of the research.

Prof. Kagan held previous teaching positions at Tel Aviv University and the American University in Cairo. His role in expanding refugee legal aid in the global south was profiled in Zachary Kaufman’s Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012). He was also a lead drafter of the Nairobi Code, an international model code of ethics for legal aid in refugee cases.

At Boyd, Prof. Kagan co-directs the Immigration Clinic and teaches administrative law, professional responsibility, international human rights and immigration law. In his clinical work, Prof. Kagan leads students in handling complex asylum and deportation cases, with a particular focus on the intersection of federal immigration law and local criminal justice. He has built an innovative program in which the Immigration Clinic consults with the Clark County Public Defender in plea negotiations involving immigrants, and a pilot program in which clinic students represent non-citizen criminal defendants, filing a gap in indigent criminal defense.

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