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Karla McKanders Clinical Professor of Law

Expert in refugee and immigration Law. Runs Vanderbilt's Immigration Practice Clinic.


Karla McKanders directs the Immigration Practice Clinic and teaches Refugee and Immigration Law. Her work has taken her throughout the U.S. and abroad teaching and researching the efficacy of legal institutions charged with processing migrants and refugees. In 2011, she received a Fulbright grant to lecture in Morocco. Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty, McKanders was a tenured associate professor of Law at University of Tennessee College of Law. During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, she was a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinic, co-authoring with her students, amici curaie briefs on the federal immigration travel ban litigation in International Refugee Assistance Project ("IRAP") v. Trump (Fourth Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court) and Pars Equality Center et. al. v. Trump (D.C. Cir.). Before she joined the law faculty at the University of Tennessee, she was a clinical teaching fellow at Villanova University School of Law in the Clinic for Asylum Refugee and Emigrant Services. McKanders serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration Advisory Committee. McKanders was a law clerk for Judge Damon J. Keith with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit after earning her law degree at Duke University and undergraduate degree at Spelman College. She has been cited as an authority on immigration and refugee law by such media outlets as Reuters, ABC News and Al-Jazeera.