Law alumna protects human rights and improves lives — at home and overseas

Altimier stands in front of a mural near courts in Cape Town.

Hands-on learning

Julie Altimier, JD ’17, completed an externship for the South African Human Rights Commission in Cape Town. The commission serves as an organization where South African citizens can file complaints of human rights violations.

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mmigration cases can be so legally complex that a judge is often unable to deliver a decision without further research.

“That’s where I come in,” said Julie Altimier, JD ‘17.

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Altimier is completing a two-year clerkship in Virginia at the Arlington Immigration Court, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice. As an attorney adviser, she reviews testimony and evidence, researches applicable laws and precedents, and helps judges draft decisions.

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Altimier stands in front of doors in Cape Town.

The stakes in these cases are high. The decisions the Ohio native helps shape either grant or deny people relief from deportation. Their circumstances are often humbling and difficult to hear.

“Many cases that come before the court involve claims of serious harm or suffering, and they reveal very personal information,” Altimier said.

Altimier first came across such cases during her third year at Quinnipiac law school in 2016 while participating in an international externship in Cape Town, South Africa. There, she worked for the South African Human Rights Commission, an organization that investigates and attempts to resolve human rights violations committed against South African citizens. Each day, Altimier interviewed and helped these individuals by performing inquiries into their claims.

School of Law International Law and Policy

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As a law student whose goal was to work in human rights, Altimier was also a global engagement fellow during her second and third years of law school. In addition to attending human rights workshops at Quinnipiac and the United Nations in New York, she attended a week-long workshop at the University of Oxford in 2017. This provided an opportunity to learn about humanitarian crises around the world and present on Quinnipiac Law’s Human Trafficking Prevention Program.

Through all these experiences she learned firsthand what an international career could look like.  After she finishes her clerkship, Altimier hopes to return to the international field and work in refugee law.

“As long as I am doing something to work with people and use my skills for the service of others, I will be happy,” she said.