Andrew Knapp

Adjunct Professor of Law / Chief Financial Officer, Immigrant Access to Justice Assistance


B.A., magna cum laude, English Literature, 1988, Westfield College; M.A., English Literature, 1990, University of California, Irvine; J.D., 1995, Western State University; Member, California State Bar

Joined Southwestern: 2012

Career Highlights

Professor Knapp regularly serves, along with his law students, as appointed pro bono counsel for immigration cases assigned through the Ninth Circuit’s law school clinic pro bono program. Professor Knapp and his law students have won most of their pro bono Ninth Circuit appointed immigration cases, including Chavez-Garcia v. Sessions, 871 F.3d 991 (9th Cir. 2017), Dimaya v. Lynch, 803 F.3d 1110 (9th Cir. 2015), Muniz-Alvarado v. Lynch, 603 Fed.Appx. 637 (9th Cir. 2015), Gomez-Ponce v. Holder, 571 Fed.Appx. 528 (9th Cir. 2014), and Hernandez v. Holder, 738 F.3d 1099 (9th Cir. 2013). The clinic’s big win in Dimaya v. Lynch was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court last term in a 5 to 4 decision, Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018), in which Justice Kagan, writing for the majority, affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s invalidation of a criminal removal provision as unconstitutionally void for vagueness. Andrew also successfully moved the Ninth Circuit in Marinelarena v. Sessions, 886 F.3d 737 (9th Cir. 2018), to reconsider before an 11 judge panel in the fall.

Professor Knapp admirably serves as the Chief Financial Officer and lead volunteer attorney for Immigrant Access to Justice Assistance (“IAJA”), a charitable nonprofit which provides pro bono representation before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to disadvantaged noncitizens who would otherwise go without legal representation. His last full-time employment was as a staff attorney for the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Virginia, from 2010 to 2011, drafting decisions for three Board member panels. Before that, he practiced immigration law in Los Angeles for over ten years with Cifuentes Knapp & Associates, and for nearly four years in Orange County as a solo practitioner. Prior to that, he worked for the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service as an asylum officer in the mid-1990’s.

For over the past twenty years, Professor Knapp has successfully represented numerous noncitizens before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals boasting an undefeated published track record.

Professor Knapp's desire to aid disadvantaged noncitizens does not stop in the courtroom. He has worked to reform the system entirely having participated as a panelist on many immigration law conference programs presented by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and local and national bar associations, including the June 15, 2018 American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Annual Conference seminar entitled “Preventing the Demise of Due Process,” the June 23, 2017 AILA Annual Conference seminar entitled “Void for Vagueness: How to Apply Johnson in the Immigration Context,” and many, many more.

Teaching the Appellate Litigation Clinic, Professor Knapp is able to express his two passions simultaneously, cultivating young legal minds, and representing the disadvantaged. He leads his students through Ninth Circuit immigration cases giving them real-world experience and the constant thrill of victory.

"The success of our clinic cases is entirely due to the law students’ dedication, idealism, passion, and unwavering belief that even the strictest immigration laws can be molded to produce a just result."

Selected Achievements

Professor Knapp's accolades include the Alumni Achievement Award he was given on November 5, 2016, by his alma mater, Western State Law School, and the Ninth Circuit Distinguished Pro Bono Award, to be awarded by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to Southwestern’s Appellate Litigation Clinic at a ceremony at the Ninth Circuit’s Pasadena courthouse on September 26, 2018.

Professor Knapp's list of Ninth Circuit victories include: Chavez-Garcia v. Sessions, 871 F.3d 991 (9th Cir. 2017) ; Dimaya v. Lynch, 803 F.3d 1110 (9th Cir. 2015) ; Hernandez v. Holder, 738 F.3d 1099 (9th Cir. 2013) ; Mejia-Hernandez v. Holder, 633 F.3d 818 (9th Cir. 2011) ; De Rodriguez-Echeverria v. Mukasey, 534 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2008) ; Recinos De Leon v. Gonzales, 400 F.3d 1185 (9th Cir. 2005) ; Reyes-Melendez v. INS, 342 F.3d 1001 (9th Cir. 2003)