Minnesota Law

Summer 2023
For the Record

Summer Experiences: Audrey Hutchinson, 2L

Audrey Hutchinson, 2L, is from Denver, Colorado, and spent the greater part of the last decade in New York after receiving a degree in studio arts from Bard College and subsequently working in Manhattan. This summer, she is working with the Urban Justice Center's Sex Workers Project in New York City, which addresses a niche but critical nexus of immigration/crimmigration law, human rights law, and gender & sexuality law. She is excited to apply this experience to her fall courses, including Reproductive Rights, Family Law, Law, Biomedicine & Bioethics. This fall she will serve as a staff member of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology and as the executive treasurer of the Minnesota chapter of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Rights.

Audrey Hutchinson, 2L

How did you connect with or find this summer opportunity?

I have always been interested in gender, sex, and reproductive rights. I have been a longstanding advocate for decriminalizing and destigmatizing consensual sex work, but also very interested in how law, policy, and societal sentiment around sex work act in benevolently paternalistic ways that negatively impact not only consensual workers but victims of sex trafficking as well. Because of their prestige and efforts on this front, I have known of the UJC's Sex Workers Project for nearly a decade — initially as a personal resource and something I recommended to peers and sex workers, but also as something I recommend to anyone who wants to educate themselves or get involved. I regularly and specifically checked the SWP website hoping there would be a summer position and when I finally saw the post, I absolutely leaped at the opportunity–despite not having any background in immigration!


How does your experience connect with what you currently envision doing with your law degree?

I hope to find avenues to use my law degree in a way that promotes a discussion of sex work, recognizing its global, age-old, and almost invulnerable role in the human experience so that we may more effectively approach the policies and laws that govern it. I also hope to explore the increasingly nebulous nature of sex work in the age of the internet and emerging technology — both of which inevitably alter the face, substance, and legal approach to sex work, sex trafficking, and bodily autonomy.


Please describe a "typical" workday on the job.

A typical workday starts with checking in with my supervisor and outlining my plans for the day to her, as well as checking if there is any pressing work that should take precedence. We also regularly have individual, all-staff, and legal team meetings where everyone is encouraged to express any current challenges and bounce ideas off one another, or just offer general support.  

Barring any pressing situations or meetings, I will go over my notes, documents, and deadlines for the clients whose cases I am handling. I largely work with clients in building their asylum cases. With all of my clients, work often includes completing “alphabet soup” immigration forms and any subsequent addenda, collecting witness statements, and drafting and filing written pleadings, motions, and cover letters. As the majority of our clients are LGBTQ+, our basis for persecution often involves extensive research for country condition indexes in addition to their personal stories.

I am incredibly fortunate in that I spend the majority of my time talking with my clients and working on their declarations, other personal affidavits, and pre-trial briefs. I work directly with them from start to finish which allows me to ensure that their stories, experiences, and identities are presented in a way that is not only legally effective but also a true reflection of who they are. The asylum process can be incredibly overwhelming and isolating, but SWP’s trauma-informed approach to lawyering has empowered me to try my best to make sure clients know we are here to support them and make sure their own voices will not only be heard but listened to.

What is something you learned or experienced that was surprising or particularly compelling during this summer position?

Witnessing that in the wild west that is immigration law, due process, expediency, and justice are in the eye–or pocket–of the beholder. I'm looking at you, USCIS, DHS, EOIR.

What are a couple of your key takeaways from the experience so far?

Be open, be compassionate, and listen knowing you cannot always understand. Meet people where they are and help them get where they want to go.

How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?

Above and beyond. More informative, inspiring, harrowing, rewarding, and soul-crushing than I could have ever imagined. It has been a life-changing experience working with some of the kindest and smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

What advice would you offer another law student thinking about working in a similar position next summer?

  1. You will be disappointed and discouraged. That does not mean you should stop; look again.
  2. Make sure you take time for self-care from the start, even if you don't think you need it. Things accumulate, and you don't always see it. Be kind to yourself proactively.

How are you spending your free time this summer?

Cooking a lot, but doing so exclusively in conjunction with tone-deaf singing and dancing; praying for rain and reminding people to wear sunscreen; convening with the ghost of a small Victorian child that possesses me and controls my physical constitution; playing Old School RuneScape and every Nintendo cozy sim game; hissing at the sun as it touches my skin when I emerge from my crypt after a good day’s rest; spending all remaining time telling my dog, Maple Syrup, that she's a good girl and so cute and so smart and that she's just a lil baby.

What are you most looking forward to in returning to Minnesota Law this fall?

The chance to take courses that impassion me from faculty that inspire me.