Where Are They Now: Emily Bushman

By Ben Frotscher
From the volleyball court to the court of law, Emily Bushman has always brought passion and a competitive spirit to anything she tackles.
Emily PHOTO: Tork Mason/hawkeyesports.com Iowa Hawkeyes defensive specialist Emily Bushman bumps the ball during a match against Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on November 7, 2018.

Emily Bushman (20BBA, 23JD) was the heart and soul of the Iowa volleyball program during her time in Iowa City.

Bushman is now living in New Orleans and working as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow with Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy, a nonprofit legal organization whose mission is to fight alongside clients in immigration proceedings and defend the rights of immigrant communities.

We caught up with Bushman to talk about her time at Iowa and her life beyond the court.

Student Athlete portrait of Emily

You were a four-year letterwinner for the Hawkeyes. What did you learn from your time as a student-athlete that you still think about today?

  • One of the biggest things I learned was leaning on one another and building a culture of unwavering support and growth—being there for others who need to lean on you and having the support of your teammates when you need it. I loved being a part of the system of support and encouraging one another to be the best versions of ourselves, finding joy and levity even in the toughest times. You can’t overstate the connections with your teammates and the type of bond you have with one another. That’s something I think about often—the community I was lucky enough to be a part of in Iowa City.

What’s your favorite memory from your time as a student-athlete?

  • There are so many memories with teammates—just hanging out with one another, traveling on the road to away games, or just goofing around in the locker room. The time spent with teammates off the court is invaluable. Those memories will always stand out the most; they’re moments I hold very dear. On the court, our 2018 win over Wisconsin—who was No. 6 at the time—will always be a highlight for me.

When did you know law school was in your future?

  • I took a class my freshman year with Brian Farrell (98JD), and it was the first time I had started considering law school. It was super helpful seeing what law school was like and what careers were available.

During your time as a Hawkeye, you worked for the University of Iowa Legal Clinic. How did those experiences help solidify your career path?

  • The UI Legal Clinic operates in the law school, and professors in the clinic act as supervising attorneys. Law students are allowed to practice under their supervision. You are assigned cases in several different practice areas, and I took on cases in federal criminal defense and immigration. I can’t imagine going through law school without those experiences because it’s a great opportunity to work collaboratively with your supervisor and other students. Most importantly, you’re working directly with and for clients. You really learn your style of lawyering and how to fight alongside your clients to navigate the legal process, achieve their goals, and zealously advocate on their behalf. I can’t say enough positive things about my experience in the UI Legal Clinic.

You’re the first-ever UI law graduate to work as a fellow for Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA). Can you talk about your role with this organization?

  • In immigration proceedings, you have the right to an attorney, but an attorney is not automatically provided for you. Therefore, if you can’t afford an attorney or, alternatively, find an attorney or organization to take on your case pro bono, you must handle the case on your own—and that places a lot of obstacles in front of someone who is already facing immense adversity. At ISLA, we provide pro bono representation to individuals in ICE detention centers in Louisiana. We represent people in front of the immigration court and handle appeals, too. ISLA also runs a help desk at one of the Immigration Courts in the area and represents some unaccompanied minors as well. Importantly, we assist with providing all types of support to individuals who may need it while in detention or post-release. I started my two-year fellowship in September, and I’ll eventually have my own caseload. There’s so much to be done. There are so many people who could use a lawyer, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to help in any capacity I can. I am grateful to be a part of someone’s team, fighting for and alongside them.

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