Over the past summer, Jepson senior Emily Stubblefield’s internship at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Jezic & Moyes brought her up close to the immigration debate, which has captivated public attention and media coverage in the United States and Europe in recent months.

“Studying the nuances of immigration law and how it has evolved is the first step that is necessary to form an opinion, and that’s something I hadn’t done before this summer,” says Stubblefield, a leadership studies and philosophy, politics, economics and law double major.

During her Jepson Internship, Stubblefield, a native of Baltimore, Md., approached U.S. immigration law through both a broad lens of policy, case laws, and history and a deep immersion in current cases and leaders in the debate.

“Since immigration law is a more specialized area that’s currently changing rapidly, it’s been a very collaborative experience as attorneys work together to navigate the changes in their field,” Stubblefield says.

Stubblefield spent about two-thirds of her time in the office doing casework, filing paperwork, researching evidence, and writing motions. The other time she spent in Arlington and Baltimore immigration court hearings and seeing clients.

“In general, most people can agree that the state of the U.S. immigration system is disheartening,” says Stubblefield, who says she no longer takes her own rights as a U.S. citizen for granted. “The rhetoric surrounding it, mainly ‘a problem to which no one seems to have a solution,’ struck me as being very similar to a problem requiring adaptive work.”

Stubblefield explains that adaptive work requires innovation to take action and come to a long-term solution. She also adds that this work takes time, which often makes it unacceptable to followers but no less important.

“When problems of this nature arise, they can only be solved by strong leadership,” Stubblefield says.

In the area of immigration law, she says this requires “leaders who are willing to remove themselves from party lines in order to focus on creating an immigration policy that is comprehensive and sustainable.”

Stubblefield’s experience at Jezic & Moyes has reaffirmed her decision to pursue law school within a couple years of graduation. She also notes that one person can have a national impact in this area of policy and law, citing University of Maryland law professor Maureen Sweeney as an example.

“The takeaway is not only how one person can have a national impact, but how sometimes the hardest work can be the most necessary,” Stubblefield says.