Steve Meili

Steve Meili

  • James H. Michael Chair in International Human Rights Law
  • Assistant Dean for Clinical Education
  • Professor of Law
190M Mondale Hall


  • Dartmouth College, B.A.
  • New York University, M.A., J.D.
  • Georgetown University, L.L.M.


  • Civil Procedure
  • Clinical Legal Education
  • Immigration Law
  • International Human Rights
  • International Refugee Law
  • Legal Profession

Professor Stephen Meili writes and teaches about the rights of noncitizens, particularly those seeking asylum. His work often takes a comparative approach: His recent book, published in 2022 by Oxford University Press, is a study of the constitutionalization of human rights law and its impact on asylum-seekers in Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, Uganda and the United States. His scholarship has also analyzed the effectiveness of human rights treaties in protecting asylum-seekers in Canada, Ecuador, Mexico, the U. and the European Union.

His other recent publications include an analysis of efforts by the Trump Administration to limit access to asylum in the United States, a comparative study of the detention of asylum-seekers in the U.S. and the UK, and the right not to hold a political opinion as the basis for asylum. His research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Robina Foundation, and the University of Minnesota’s Strategic Partnerships Program.

Meili has taught international refugee law and been an Academic Visitor at Oxford University. He has also taught at four law schools in Medellin, Colombia, and at Uppsala University in Sweden. At the University of Minnesota he teaches Immigration Law and International Refugee and Asylum Law.

Meili also serves as Co-Director of the Law School’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, where students represent asylum-seekers and trafficking survivors in various immigration and appellate court proceedings. Over the past few years, the I&HR Clinic has obtained asylum or other forms of protection for applicants from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Honduras, Iran, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Syria, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe. He has also supervised outreach projects in the Twin Cities immigrant community.

Meili was awarded the Law School’s Stanley V. Kinyon Clinical Teacher of the Year Award in 2011, held the Vaughn G. Papke Clinical Professorship in Law from 2012 to 2014, and was the James H. Binger Professor in Clinical Law from 2019 through April 2022.

Prior to coming to Minnesota, Meili was Director of the Consumer Law Litigation Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Before entering academia, he was a partner in a plaintiffs’-side labor and employment law firm in Hartford, Connecticut.

Immigration Law: Asylum, Removal, and 'Crimmigration'

Immigration and Human Rights Clinic

Immigration Law Field Placement

International Refugee and Asylum Law

Immigration Law Clinic Student Directors


The Constitutionalization of Human Rights Law: Implications for Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2022)

Journal Articles

Constitutionalized Human Rights Law in South Africa: Does It Help Refugees and Asylum-Seekers?, 53 George Washington International Law Review 177 (2021)
Asylum Under Attack: Is It Time for A Constitutional Right?, 26 Buffalo Human Rights Law Review 147 (2020)
Constitutionalized Human Rights Law in Mexico: Hope for Central American Refugees?, 32 Harvard Human Rights Journal 103 (2019)
The Constitutional Right to Asylum: The Wave of the Future in International Refugee Law?, 41 Fordham International Law Journal 383 (2018)  
The Human Rights of Non-Citizens: Constitutionalized Treaty Law in Ecuador, 31 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 347 (2017)
U.S. Refugee Resettlement Policy and International Human Rights Obligations: A Mixed Record, 2 International Journal of Migration and Border Studies 1 (2016)
Do Human Rights Treaties Matter?: Judicial Responses to the Detention of Asylum-Seekers in the United States and the United Kingdom, 48 New York University Journal of International Law & Politics 209 (2015)
Do Human Rights Treaties Help Asylum-Seekers?: Lessons from the United Kingdom, 48 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 123 (2015)
The Right Not To Hold a Political Opinion: Implications for Asylum in the United States and the United Kingdom, 46.3 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 1 (2015)
When Do Human Rights Treaties Help Asylum Seekers? A Study of Theory and Practice in Canadian Jurisprudence Since 1990, 51 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 627 (2014)
U.K. Refugee Lawyers: Pushing the Boundaries of Domestic Court Acceptance of International Human Rights Law, 54 Boston College Law Review 1123 (2013)
Collective Justice or Personal Gain? An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Class Action Lawyers and Named Plaintiffs, 44 Akron Law Review 67 (2011)
Human Rights and Protection of Non-Citizens: Whither Universality and Indivisibility of Rights?, 28 Refugee Survey Quarterly 34 (2009), reprinted in Vulnerable and Marginalised Groups and Human Rights (David Weissbrodt & Mary Rumsey, eds., Edward Elgar, 2011)
David Weissbrodt
Staying Alive: Public Interest Law in Contemporary Latin America, 9 International Review of Constitutionalism 43 (2009)
Cause Lawyering et Justice Collective: l'example de l'amparo colectivo en Argentine, 55 Droit et Societe 659 (2003)
A Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness: The Client in Clinical Education, 2000 Wisconsin Law Review 617 (2000)
Alternative Dispute Resolution in a New Health Care System: Will it Work for Everyone?, 10 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 23 (1994)
Tamara Packard
The Interaction between Lawyers and Grass Roots Social Movements in Brazil, 3 Beyond Law (Instituto Latinoamericano de Servicios Legales Alternativas) 61 (July 1993) (Working Paper ILS 5-2, Institute for Legal Studies, University of Wisconsin Law School (July 1993))

Book Chapters

National Constitutions and the Right to Asylum, in The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law (Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster & Jane McAdam, ed., Oxford University Press, 2021)
The Effectiveness of an Emerging Pathway of Rights: The Constitutionalization of Human Rights Law, in Contesting Human Rights: Norms, Institutions and Practice (Alison Brysk & Michael Stohl, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019)
Recent Developments in the Human Rights of Trafficked Persons, in Human Rights and Migration: Trafficking for Forced Labour (Christien van den Anker & Ilse van Liempt, eds., Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
David Weissbrodt
Consumer Protection, in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research (Peter Cane & Herbert M. Kritzer, eds., Oxford University Press, 2010)
"Of course he just stood there; he's the law": Two Depictions of Cause Lawyers in Post-Authoritarian Chile, in The Cultural Lives of Cause Lawyers (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2008)
Consumer Cause Lawyers in the United States: Lawyers for the Movement or a Movement unto Themselves, in Cause Lawyers and Social Movements (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Stanford Law and Politics, 2006)
Cause Lawyering for Collective Justice: A Case Study of the Amparo Colectivo in Argentina, in The World Cause Lawyers Make: Structure and Agency in Legal Practice (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Stanford Law and Politics, 2005)
Consumer Actions, in Methods of Practice (Jay E. Grenig, James B. MacDonald & Nathan A. Fishback, eds., Thomson/West, 4th ed., 2004)
Latin American Cause-Lawyering Networks, in Cause Lawyering and the State in a Global Era (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Oxford University Press, 2001)
Legal Education in Argentina and Chile, in Educating for Justice Around the World: Legal Education, Legal Practice, and the Community (Louise G. Trubek & Jeremy Cooper, eds., Ashgate/Dartmouth, 1999)
Cause Lawyers and Social Movements: A Comparative Perspective on Democratic Change in Argentina and Brazil, in Cause Lawyering: Political Commitments and Professional Responsibilities (Austin Sarat & Stuart Scheingold, eds., Oxford University Press, 1998)

Book Reviews

Book Review, 33 International Journal of Refugee Law 702 (2021) (reviewing Andrew I Schoenholtz, Ramji-Nogales Jaya & Philip G Schrag, The End of Asylum (Georgetown University Press, 2021))
Book Review, 51 Law & Society Review 738 (2017) (reviewing Leila Kawar, Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France (Cambridge University Press, 2015))
Book Review, 18 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 169 (2003) (reviewing Peter Cartwright, Consumer Protection and the Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press, 2001))
Book Review, 9 Law and Politics Book Review 444 (Oct. 1999) (reviewing Sam Schrager, The Trial Lawyer's Art (Temple University Press, 1999))

Entries in Reference Works

Consumer Law, in Legal Systems of the World (Herbert M. Kritzer, ed., ABC-CLIO, 2002)

Other Publications

Perjudicar las posibilidades de los solicitantes de asilo por el mal uso de los tratados de derechos humanos, 43 Revista Migraciones Forzadas 74 (July 2013)
Harming Asylum Seekers' Chances through Poor Use of Human Rights Treaties, 43 Forced Migration Review 74 (May 2013)
Wisconsin's New Automobile Repossession Law: Creditors in the Driver's Seat, 80 Wisconsin Lawyer 8 (Feb. 2007)
Kelly Anderson
Your Consumer Rights (Consumer Law Litigation Clinic, University of Wisconsin Law School, 3d ed., 2007); translated into Spanish, Sus derechos como consumidor (Consumer Law Litigation Clinic, University of Wisconsin Law School, 3a. ed., 2007)
Confidentiality of Medical Records, 68 Wisconsin Lawyer 18 (Feb. 1995)
Cleaning House: Democracy and Environmentalism in Brazil, 9 Amicus Journal 11 (Spring 1987)