Michael Kagan, Director
Prof. Kagan is a noted scholar of international refugee law and immigrant rights in the United States. Before coming to Boyd in 2011, Prof. Michael Kagan spent 10 years building legal aid programs for refugees throughout the Middle East and Asia. In addition to directing the UNLV Immigration Clinic, he has consulted on hundreds of criminal cases involving non-citizens with the Clark County Public Defender. Visit Prof. Kagan's faculty page for more about his scholarship and teaching.
Alissa Cooley, Managing Attorney
Alissa A. Cooley is the UNLV Immigration Clinic’s managing attorney and leads our off-campus Community Advocacy Office. A native Nevadan, she completed her undergraduate degree at UNLV and graduated cum laude from Boyd in 2014. After law school, she became one of the first two justice AmeriCorps (jAC) fellows at the Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic, effectively jumpstarting the growth of the Immigration Clinic as a legal aid provider. Over two years as a jAC fellow, she represented over one hundred children, ages two to sixteen, who entered the U.S. without a parent or guardian, in their immigration court proceedings. This work later evolved into the Edward M. Bernstein & Associates Children’s Rights Program (2017-2021) and then the Community Advocacy Office (2022-). Ms. Cooley practiced immigration and criminal law in private practice from 2016 to 2021 and co-taught UNLV’s Policing and Protest Clinic in 2021, before returning to Boyd full time to lead the Community Advocacy Office. She is a member of the Lt. Governor’s Keep Nevada Working Task Force.
Leslie Joya, Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow
Leslie Joya brings several years of personal and professional experience with the immigration legal system to the Clinic. Originally from Sinaloa, Mexico, her resilience and commitment to public service stem from growing up undocumented in Los Angeles and witnessing the systemic injustice that migrants face. After graduating from Harvard University, she worked providing legal services to immigrants in New York, Texas, and California. While at UCLA School of Law, she worked with various organizations serving unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers, detained immigrants, and migrants stranded in Tijuana, Mexico under MPP. She is an abolitionist and aims to help her clients survive, thrive, and access justice.
Martha Arellano, Legal Secretary
Martha Arellano is originally from Los Angeles, California, where she grew up speaking English and Spanish. Ms. Arellano's love of language led her to expand on her formal English education to also study Spanish and French. She is a twenty-seven year resident of Las Vegas, Nevada and former UNLV engineering student, where she maintained a 4.0 GPA. In 2014, Ms. Arellano began working at the Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic and was instrumental in the implementation of the AmeriCorps program for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children, the predecessor of the Edward M. Bernstein and Associates Children's Rights Program. Over the last few years at the Clinic, she has served as an interpreter, translator, administrative assistant, and legal secretary. She has been described as the program's "heart and soul."