Holly S. Cooper


Position Title

TB 30

Holly Cooper, Co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic, has extensive litigation experience defending the rights of immigrants and is a nationally recognized expert on immigration detention issues and on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. 

Cooper is a graduate of UC Davis School of Law, where she was on the Board of the King Hall Legal Foundation and an active member of the National Lawyers Guild. She received her B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. As an undergraduate, she also studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Padua in Italy. She speaks, reads and writes in both Spanish and Italian. 

After law school, Cooper worked for Reed Smith LLP (formerly Crosby, Heafey Roach & May LLP), The Law Offices of Fellom & Solorio, and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. As the Senior Staff Attorney at the Florence Project, Cooper initiated the Detained Immigrant Children’s Rights Project, provided representation and pro se assistance for adult detainees, and mentored pro bono attorneys. She currently serves on the UC Haiti Initiative’s Steering Committee and is on the Advisory Board for the Gifford Center for Population Studies.

Cooper joined the School of Law faculty in 2006. In the Immigration Law Clinic, she focuses on advocating for the rights of detained immigrants. In 2011, she was the recipient of the King Hall Legal Foundation’s Outstanding Alumni Award and the Carol Weiss King award from the National Lawyers Guild.

Cooper also trains lawyers on a national level and regularly speaks at academic conferences. She provides expert legal advice to public defenders and was the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Liaison to the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge for two years. In the international domain, Cooper has worked on human rights issues in Haiti and has volunteered on multiple human rights delegations to Haiti since the earthquake. 

Education and Degree(s)
  • B.S. Political Science, University of California, San Diego, 1993
  • J.D. University of California, Davis, 1998
  • Italy, Universita di Padova, Facolta delle Scienze Politich, Italy, 1991-1992
Honors and Awards
  • Carol Weiss King Award for Creative Litigation, October, 2011
  • King Hall Legal Foundation Outstanding Alumni Award March, 2011
  • Senior Staff Attorney, Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project 2000-2006
  • Immigration Law Clinic’s Outstanding Alumni Award October, 2006
  • Gifford Center for Population Studies Advisory Council
  • UC Haiti Initiative’s Steering Committee
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association’s National Liaison to the Office of Chief Immigration Judge
Research Interests & Expertise
  • Immigration Law And Policy
  • Detained Immigrants Rights
  • Refugee Law
  • International Human Rights
  • Prisoners Rights (See Also Civil Rights)


Quick Reference Chart and Annotations for Determining Immigration Consequences of Selected Arizona Offenses, Immigration Legal Resource Center, 2006.

Getting Out: Strategy for Challenging Unlawful Detention in Federal Court, Immigration Legal Resource Center, 2006.

Immigration Law Contributor to the Prison Legal News, (2011- present)

Defending Immigrants in the Ninth Circuit: Impact of Crimes under California and Other States, Authored and edited the detention chapter (ILRC 2011)

Freedom from ICE Custody: A Desert Illusion or A Litigation Possibility?, Holly Cooper and Hiroko Kusuda (AILA 2009)