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John Willshire

Lecturer on Law

Spring 2024

John Willshire
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John Willshire Carrera is Co-Managing Director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic at Greater Boston Legal Services and senior clinical instructor at HLS. He is originally from the central Peruvian Andes. John has worked in the area of immigrant, asylum and human rights for over 30 years. He has contributed to the recognition and development of asylum/human rights law as it applies to women, children and indigenous persons. He served as adjunct faculty at Northeastern Law School, where he taught asylum law. He has represented immigrant workers detained during the Michael Bianco Factory raid of 2007, as well as children and mothers who have recently fled Central America. In 1987, he directed the Ford Foundation national research and organizing project on implementation of Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court decision that established the right of all immigrant students to a public education in the United States. He has litigated numerous asylum cases before federal appellate courts. John is a recipient of the AILA Founders Award in 1994, HLS Dean’s Award for Excellence, John G. Brooks Award from the Boston Bar Association, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review award for outstanding working work in public interest, Access to Legal Justice award by the MBA and was named a Lawyer of the Year by Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly 2007.


  • B.A. Economics University of Massachusetts
  • M.A. Political Economy University of Massachusetts
  • J.D. Law Northeastern University School of Law

Bar Admissions

  • Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts (1986)
  • U.S. Supreme Court, United States (2006)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fist Circuit (1991)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (2016)
  • U.S. District Court - District of Massachusetts (1994)

Board Memberships

  • Chair of Board of Directors, Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (2014 - Present)
  • Member of Board of Directors, Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (2009 - 2014)
  • Member of Steering Committee, Massachusetts Chapter of National Lawyers Guild (1988 - 2012)
  • Member of Board, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (1989 - 2000)
    United States

Honors and Awards

  • Founders Award - American Immigration Lawyers Association (Awards)
    June 1994
  • HLS Dean's Award for Excellence (Awards)
    August 2014
  • Daniel Levy Award - National Lawyers Guild (Awards)
    October 2007
  • Massachuetts Legal Services Deiversity Award
    May 1997
  • Access to Justice Legal Services Award - Massachusetts Bar Association (Awards)
    May 2004
  • Dow, Gardner, Landrum Award - Greater Boston Legal Services
    June 1997
  • Testimonial Dinner Honoree - Mass. Chapter of National Lawyers Guild (Professional Honors)
    May 2000
  • Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review - HLS (Professional Honors)
    April 2008
  • Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year - Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (Professional Honors)
    June 2007
  • Maya K'Iche Organization - New Bedford (Awards)
    September 2012
  • Outstanding Immigration Lawyer - Brazilian Womens Center
    October 2009
  • Giva a Hand Annual Award, Fund For Public Interest - Northeasters U. School of Law (Awards)
    October 1996
  • Community Change Leadership Award - Challenging Racism, Community Change (Awards)
    November 2011
  • Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights (to Unit) (Awards)
    November 2013
  • Sollidarity in Struggle Award - Student Immigrant Movement (Awards)
    November 2012