Professor Julie Marzouk recently receivedCalifornia Lawyer’s CLAY Attorney of the Year Award for immigration. Marzouk was one of nine attorneys receiving the award for their role in bringing about a “major development for transgender rights.” In three individual cases, the team successfully convinced a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel to grant relief to transgender Mexican women at risk of being tortured or killed if they were deported from the United States.

marzouk clay award and headshot

Professor Julie Marzouk

“The Court’s three decisions are ground-breaking in that in each case the Court overturned the Board of Immigration Appeal’s false conflation of sexual orientation with gender identity,” Professor Marzouk said. “The Ninth Circuit clearly held that transgender women are a distinct social group who face particular persecution in Mexico. I am honored to have been involved in the cases and grateful that my client now has a valid work permit and protection against deportation. The cases create important precedent that will be used to provide relief to other victims of persecution and torture.”

Professor Marzouk took on the case as Supervising Attorney at the Public Law Center, prior to joining the Fowler School of Law faculty as a clinical professor for the Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic. The case took more than five years to be fully litigated. Her client, a transgender woman, survived a violent attack and surrendered herself at the U.S. border to seek relief under U.S. law and the U.N. Convention Against Torture. The client was denied immigration relief after a judge refused to recognize her transgender status and claimed that she failed to prove that the Mexican government could not or would not protect her.

After an unsuccessful appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which also rejected the distinction between homosexuality and gender identity, Professor Marzouk appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case was ultimately heard along with the two other cases in 2015. All three cases directly addressed whether transgender women from Mexico can be considered a particular social group for purposes of applying for asylum (and related relief) and whether the government of Mexico fails to protect such individuals from persecution. The Board of Immigration Appeal’s decisions were overturned in each case.

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Professor Marzouk teaches the Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic Immigration seminar which focuses on core lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling, fact investigation, affidavit drafting and brief writing. In the clinic, students explore the dynamics of domestic violence while studying substantive immigration law and regulation. Professor Marzouk supervises students in the direct representation of immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes. Family Protection Clinic Immigration students represent clients in administrative proceedings and in federal Immigration Court, as well as engage in community-based education and local advocacy. Prior to joining the Chapman faculty, Professor Marzouk was the Supervising Attorney at Orange County’s Public Law Center (PLC). While at PLC, she provided direct legal services to low-income immigrant clients and directed county-wide legal initiatives serving immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She managed the legal services portion of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, oversaw PLC’s partnership in the Orange County Immigration Detention Collaborative, and developed the Orange County Naturalization Initiative Collaboration. Professor Marzouk has worked as an Immigration Staff Attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, and as a private practice immigration attorney, representing individuals in removal and deportation proceedings. She began law practice as an associate at Bingham McCutchen LLP in San Francisco, California. Professor Marzouk has published on clinical teaching pedagogy, asylum law and diversity issues. She has presented numerous lectures on issues including global violence against women, immigration detention, LGBT asylum claims, human trafficking and the representation of immigrant victims of crime. Professor Marzouk has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, and lived and worked in Oaxaca, Mexico as a human rights investigator. She is fluent in Spanish. Professor Marzouk graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University. She received her JD from Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley School of Law.