Matthew Boaz Acting Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic and Professor of Practice

Phone: 540-458-4238


Office: 331 Lewis Hall

SSRN  •  CV  •  Scholarly Commons

Area of Expertise

Immigration, Criminal Law, Abolition, Critical Legal Theory


JD, Georgetown University Law Center

BA, Texas Christian University


Prof. Matthew Boaz is the Acting Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the Washington & Lee University School of Law and is a Professor of Practice. His scholarship is concerned with the intersection of criminal law and immigration law, abolition, and universal representation in immigration proceedings. His work has been published in the Tennessee Law Review and the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal as well as the Oxford University Border Criminologies blog. He is the recipient of the 2021 and the 2023 Jessine A. Monaghan Fellowship for excellence in experiential education. Prof. Boaz teaches a seminar on "crimmigration" law, as well as an experiential capstone course for the Law, Justice, and Society undergraduate minor. He will teach Criminal Law to first-year students in Spring 2024.

Prior to teaching, Prof. Boaz was a Senior Detention Attorney with the Immigrant Rights Project of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Newark, NJ. During his career with AFSC, he represented hundreds of individuals being held in immigration detention facilities throughout New Jersey as part of a pilot program advocating universal representation of immigrants in removal proceedings. The success of this program resulted in several million dollars in state-level funding to expand this public-defender style program for immigrant detainees.

Boaz began his career as an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow in the New York City metro area. Prior to his career in law, Prof. Boaz taught middle-school Spanish in Charlotte, NC. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., with a certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies) and Texas Christian University (summa cum laude, B.A. in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations). He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Recent Publications

"Speculative Immigration Policy", 37 Geo. Immig. L.J. 183 (2023).

"Practical Abolition: Universal Representation as an Alternative to Immigration Detention", 89 Tenn. L. Rev. 199 (2021).

"A Practical Immigration Decarceration Approach for the New Biden Administration" (Mar. 19, 2021), University of Oxford Border Criminologies Blog.