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Stephen Meili

Clinical Professor in Law

Steve Meili

190N Mondale Hall
229–19th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55455



Dartmouth College, B.A.
New York University, M.A., J.D.
Georgetown University, L.L.M.

Professor Stephen Meili writes and teaches about the rights of non-citizens, particularly those seeking asylum. His recent publications include the right not to hold a political opinion as the basis for asylum (Columbia Human Rights Law Review, forthcoming in 2015) and the impact of human rights treaties on asylum jurisprudence in Canada and the United Kingdom (Osgoode Hall Law Journal 2014 and Vanderbilt Transnational Law Journal 2015, respectively). He has also co-authored (with his U of M colleague David Weissbrodt) two works on human rights issues: "Recent Developments in the Human Rights of Trafficked Persons," in Human Rights and Migration: Trafficking for Forced Labour (2012) and "Human Rights and Protection of Non-Citizens: Whither Universality and Indivisibility of Rights?" (Refugee Survey Quarterly, 2010). His current research projects include a comparative study of the detention of asylum-seekers in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as the treatment of Colombians who have sought asylum in Ecuador. He has also published extensive scholarship on cause lawyering in comparative perspective. His research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Robina Foundation.

Professor Meili has been an Academic Visitor at the Faculty of Law at Oxford University, as well as a Senior Associate Member at Oxford's St. Antony's College. He has taught classes to students at all of the law schools in Medellin, Colombia as part of a USAID-funded clinical education program, as well as Uppsala University in Sweden.

In addition to teaching in the areas of human rights and immigration law, civil procedure and legal practice at the University of Minnesota, Professor Meili has expertise and experience in several other areas of the law. These include consumer protection, based on his 17 years as Director of the Consumer Law Litigation Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School, labor law, based on being a partner in an employment law firm in Harford, Connecticut prior to entering academia, and environmental law, based on his graduate fellowship at Georgetown University Law Center.

Professor Meili also serves as Director of the Law School's Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, where students represent asylum-seekers and detained individuals in various immigration and appellate court proceedings. Over the seven years that he has been its Director, the IHR Clinic has obtained asylum or other forms of protection for applicants from Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Iran, Liberia, and Sudan. In addition, the Clinic, which is part of the Law School's Center for New Americans, has been involved in numerous outreach and education projects involving the Somali community in the Twin Cities.





  • A Citizen's Guide to Personal and Government Records (Center for Public Representation, 3d ed., 1993)

Book Chapters

  • Recent Developments in the Human Rights of Trafficked Persons, in Human Rights and Migration: Trafficking for Forced Labour 193 (Christien van den Anker & Ilse van Liempt, eds., Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) (with David Weissbrodt)

  • Consumer Protection, in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research (Peter Cane & Herbert M. Kritzer, eds., Oxford University Press, 2010)

  • "Of course he just stood there; he's the law": Two Depictions of Cause Lawyers in Post-Authoritarian Chile, in The Cultural Lives of Cause Lawyers (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2008)

  • Consumer Cause Lawyers in the United States: Lawyers for the Movement or a Movement unto Themselves, in Cause Lawyers and Social Movements (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Stanford Law and Politics, 2006)

  • Cause Lawyering for Collective Justice: A Case Study of the Amparo Colectivo in Argentina, in The World Cause Lawyers Make: Structure and Agency in Legal Practice (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Stanford Law and Politics, 2005)

  • Consumer Actions, in Methods of Practice (Jay E. Grenig, James B. MacDonald & Nathan A. Fishback, eds., Thomson/West, 4th ed., 2004)

  • Latin American Cause-Lawyering Networks, in Cause Lawyering and the State in a Global Era (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Oxford University Press, 2001)

  • Legal Education in Argentina and Chile, in Educating for Justice Around the World: Legal Education, Legal Practice, and the Community (Louise G. Trubek & Jeremy Cooper, eds., Ashgate/Dartmouth, 1999)

  • Cause Lawyers and Social Movements: A Comparative Perspective on Democratic Change in Argentina and Brazil, in Cause Lawyering: Political Commitments and Professional Responsibilities (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Oxford University Press, 1998)

Journal Articles

  • Do Human Rights Treaties Help Asylum-Seekers?: Lessons from the United Kingdom, 48 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 123 (2015)

  • The Right Not To Hold a Political Opinion: Implications for Asylum in the United States and the United Kingdom, 46 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 1 (2015)

  • When Do Human Rights Treaties Help Asylum Seekers? A Study of Theory and Practice in Canadian Jurisprudence Since 1990, 51 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 627 (2014)

  • U.K. Refugee Lawyers: Pushing the Boundaries of Domestic Court Acceptance of International Human Rights Law, 54 Boston College Law Review 1123 (2013)

  • Collective Justice or Personal Gain? An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Class Action Lawyers and Named Plaintiffs, 44 Akron Law Review 67 (2011)

  • Human Rights and Protection of Non-Citizens: Whither Universality and Indivisibility of Rights?, 28 Refugee Survey Quarterly 34 (2009), reprinted in Vulnerable and Marginalised Groups and Human Rights (David Weissbrodt & Mary Rumsey, eds., Edward Elgar, 2011) (with David Weissbrodt)

  • Staying Alive: Public Interest Law in Contemporary Latin America, 9 International Review of Constitutionalism 43 (2009)

  • Cause Lawyering et Justice Collective: l'example de l'amparo colectivo en Argentine, 55 Droit et Societe 659 (2003)

  • A Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness: The Client in Clinical Education, 2000 Wisconsin Law Review 617 (2000)

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution in a New Health Care System: Will it Work for Everyone?, 10 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 23 (1994) (with Tamara Packard)

  • The Interaction between Lawyers and Grass Roots Social Movements in Brazil, 3 Beyond Law (Instituto Latinoamericano de Servicios Legales Alternativas) 61 (July 1993) (Working Paper ILS 5-2, Institute for Legal Studies, University of Wisconsin Law School (July 1993))

Book Reviews

  • Book Review, 18 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 169 (2003) (reviewing Peter Cartwright, Consumer Protection and the Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press, 2001))

  • Book Review, 9 Law and Politics Book Review 444 (Oct. 1999) (reviewing Sam Schrager, The Trial Lawyer's Art (Temple University Press, 1999))

Entries in Reference Works

  • Consumer Law, in Legal Systems of the World (Herbert M. Kritzer, ed., ABC-CLIO, 2002)

Other Publications

  • Perjudicar las posibilidades de los solicitantes de asilo por el mal uso de los tratados de derechos humanos, 43 Revista Migraciones Forzadas 74 (July 2013)

  • Harming Asylum Seekers' Chances through Poor Use of Human Rights Treaties, 43 Forced Migration Review 74 (May 2013)

  • Wisconsin's New Automobile Repossession Law: Creditors in the Driver's Seat, 80 Wisconsin Lawyer 8 (Feb. 2007) (with Kelly Anderson)

  • Your Consumer Rights (Consumer Law Litigation Clinic, University of Wisconsin Law School, 3d ed., 2007); translated into Spanish, Sus derechos como consumidor (Consumer Law Litigation Clinic, University of Wisconsin Law School, 3a. ed., 2007)

  • Confidentiality of Medical Records, 68 Wisconsin Lawyer 18 (Feb. 1995)

  • Cleaning House: Democracy and Environmentalism in Brazil, 9 Amicus Journal 11 (Spring 1987)