LGL3200EN - Developing a Basic Immigration Legal Services Ministry

Course description

Introduction to leading an immigration legal services ministry to serve low-income clients. Includes strategic planning, identifying a market, engaging financial support, creating a non-profit entity and board, managing key functions, staffing and supervising, promoting services, building relationships with immigrant communities, and applying for BIA accreditation.

How this course benefits students

Students who complete the basic immigration law training can only practice immigration law under the supervision of an attorney or in a BIA-accredited center that serves low income clients. According to many sources, there are not enough law firms or centers to even begin to meet the need for legal services. More centers are needed, but the training for setting up a center and managing it effectively is rarely offered. When such training is offered, it tends to be either a quick workshop or purchase of an expensive ongoing membership with a mentoring agency. A course in nonprofit management might appear to be another option for training, but an immigration legal services center is actually a specialized law office with unique requirements and limitations. The 3000-level course is designed for students who join the staff of an ongoing center and students who plan to start a small center with limited services.

Why this course is important

Leaders of BIA-accredited immigration legal service centers need specialized skills to simultaneously manage a law practice, operate a non-profit agency, serve an intercultural socioeconomic clientele, promote a business, create partnerships, and obtain or maintain accreditation. In addition, this course will explore and develop the skills and opportunities for ministry.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Legal Services
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

The course will examine Biblical concepts of leadership, ministry to low-income clients, professional standards, and the treatment of foreigners.

Missionally driven

Students will study tools and techniques for discerning community needs and openness to a legal services ministry. Course topics will also include principles for building relationships with local churches, exploring open doors to immigrant communities, promoting the services of the center, and establishing the center as a bridge between immigrants and Great Commission Christians.

Contextually informed

In the process of researching possible sites and target groups for starting or further developing a center, students will investigate potential contexts, including geographic locations, one or more people groups, and the characteristics of a sociocultural market. Members of the class will compare and contrast their findings on different locations, groups and markets.

Interculturally focused

Cultural differences and culturally-appropriate methods are very important in the successful launch or promotion of an immigration legal services center. During the course, students will investigate and then discuss their observations, impressions and options. Similarly, churches that support such centers have cultures and attitudes of their own. Students will interview and report on the perspectives of key church leaders.

Practically minded

At the 3000-level, students will examine an established ministry center. Activities may include interviewing current leaders, observing clients, researching the community that is served by the center, investigating promotional materials and methods, and inspecting the center's records, policies, and procedures. Courses at both levels will create a business plan and ministry proposal to start a new immigration legal services center. The course will also cover the process of applying for BIA accreditation. Students may modify some of the course assignments to develop an application to submit to the BIA.

Experientially transformed

In the course assignments, students will research real people groups, real sites, real centers and real leaders. They will be encouraged to design a business plan/ministry proposal for an actual ministry center. During the course, members of the class will have opportunities to share insights and information to assist other students in their understanding of ministry skills and awareness of cultural differences.