Pro Bono Heroes

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Jack D. Finkelman, Packman, Neuwahl & Rosenberg

 

"One day when my grandchildren ask me 'Grandpa, way back then, when the world went all crazy, what did you do?' I don't want to answer, with an embarrassed glance and a shrug of my shoulders that I just stood idly by and wrung my hands.  I want to look them straight in the eyes and tell them that in my own small way, I did something concrete and meaningful to right the wrongs that I saw.  I want to show them by example that as crazy as the world can sometimes get, you should always be guided by your moral compass." - Jack D. Finkelman, Esq.

 

 

 

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Kyle Teal, Associate, Gunster

"My pro bono experience opened my eyes to the challenges that volunteers for Americans for Immigrant Justice, Lawyers for Children America , and other compassionate nonprofit attorneys endure every day while fighting to preserve the promise of the America dream.  It also gave me the opportunity to celebrate a child’s chance to stay in this great country – a place she calls home.  Ultimately, my experience strengthened my pride in our judicial system and reminded me that, as advocates, our most important battles are those we wage on behalf of our most vulnerable clients." - Kyle Teal

 

 

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Kimberly Rivera, Associate, Gunster

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"Prior to becoming an attorney, I was a public high school teacher for several years, five of which I spent in the South Bronx. My students’ experiences, vastly different from my own, have always stuck with me and especially those of my immigrant students.  The obstacles these children faced at times seemed insurmountable and I always regretted that I couldn’t do more than listen.  The opportunity to work with both Americans for Immigrant Justice and Lawyers for Children America allowed me  to revisit those past experiences and work towards ensuring our client -- an exceptionally bright, dedicated and ambitious young girl -- has the future she deserves here in the United States. I couldn’t be prouder of the work I’ve done with these organizations and, more importantly, of our client, whose hard work and determination to succeed epitomizes the American dream." -  Kimberly Rivera  

 

 

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Joshua Charles Prever, Of Counsel, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

"It is truly amazing what happens when people stand-up for each other and are given the opportunity to do the right thing. Our client, a young Eritrean man, fled his homeland after he was tortured for questioning the government’s policies of forced labor.  He came to America seeking protection, knowing that returning to Eritrea was tantamount to a death sentence.  After accepting this case from Americans for Immigrant Justice, I along with other lawyers from Morgan Lewis presented the evidence to the Court; and Immigration Judge Barry S. Chait agreed that returning our client to Eritrea was not an option and refused to order his removal.  He is now living with family in the Washington D.C. area, and has a second chance—really a first chance at life.  I am proud that I stood up for him, that I had the support of my firm, and that in the end we were all able to do the right thing and protect someone that needed it." - Joshua Charles Prever

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Ashley D. Hamilton, Associate, Morgan Lewis & Bockius

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“As a junior attorney at big law firm, I look forward to opportunities to do pro bono work to connect with people and learn skills that I might not otherwise hone until later in my career. I recently volunteered to help an Eritrean asylum-seeker with his parole application because I thought it could make a big difference if we were successful. Our client’s parole application had been denied three times and his asylum claim was scheduled for trial before an immigration judge who denies 96% of the asylum cases that he hears. Through our efforts we were able to reunite our client with family in Oklahoma and he has a renewed opportunity to defend his right to remain the United States. Pro bono brings me back to the reason I and many of my colleagues went to law school – to help people in a tangible and accessible way.” - Ashley D. Hamilton 

Ashley D. Hamilton with Morgan Lewis’s Miami office successfully represented a detained asylum-seeker from Eritrea in his parole request with Immigrations & Customs Enforecement (ICE) at Broward Transitional Center. Ashley zealously advocated on behalf of her client and requested his parole from ICE. Because of Ashley’s pro bono legal representation, she was able to secure his release from BTC before his merits hearing at the Pompano Beach Immigration Court. Ashley’s client is one of the first Eritreans to be released from BTC under the new administration.

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Alison Brown, Associate, Holland & Knight

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"We all remember what living through our teenage years is like. I cannot imagine going through that time without a parent and in a situation where my safety and survival was uncertain. We knew filing and fully litigating a dependency action in less than 30 days would be extremely difficult. Recent court decisions significantly restricting the avenues to obtain dependency made success even more unlikely. But, we knew that without any help, this minor would most certainly be denied any chance at immigration status. So, we took a chance and were overjoyed with the result and the future possibilities the minor may now have." - Alison Brown

Alison Brown at Holland and Knight worked diligently to ensure dependency was granted for an orphan child. She made it a priority to be thoroughly prepared and was dedicated to familiarizing herself with the dependency statute.  The court found that the child had no parent or legal custodian capable of providing supervision or care. The child will now be eligible for protection in the United States via Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. The case was placed with Holland and Knight through the assistance of Carolyn Salisbury, Director of the Lawyers for Children America Miami Office. We also received local court practices insight from Maryam Kassaee, Attorney at Legal Aid of Palm Beach County.

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Ian Ross, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig

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Ian Ross has taken on at least six cases pro bono that were referred to him by AI Justice. Additionally, as a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, Mr. Ross has encouraged and inspired other attorneys to take on complex pro bono matters and has served as co-counsel and mentor while they fight for the rights of vulnerable immigrants and asylum seekers. He has been instrumental in organizing a number of trainings and recruitment efforts for pro bono attorneys at the firm.

Mr. Ross’s commitment to his pro bono clients has never wavered. He represented a Venezuelan couple who fled severe political persecution after being kidnapped and shot. In that particular case Mr. Ross fought for their release from immigration detention. However, once he obtained their liberty he did not stop there and continued to represent the couple in their asylum case before the immigration court, a process which has lasted well over two years. Most recently, Mr. Ross was quick to assist when an AI Justice attorney reached out to him to obtain pro bono representation for an African asylum seeker who had a hearing rapidly approaching. This asylum seeker was a torture survivor who fled his country due to religious persecution and had been languishing in immigration detention for months. Due to Mr. Ross's determination and hard work, the asylum seeker was released from detention.  AI Justice staff personally witnessed when Mr. Ross's client thanked him and told him, "you saved my life" as tears streamed down his cheeks. Without Mr. Ross's willingness to step in and take these complex and challenging cases deserving asylum seekers would no doubt still be languishing in detention or perhaps sent back to torture or their death. In that sense, Mr. Ross is truly a lifesaver. 

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Johanna Rousseaux, Of Counsel, Jones Day

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"I am very proud to be a part of Jones Day, which has committed countless resources and attorneys in recognition of the serious nature of this crisis and the positive impact that we can and will have on these children.  And the undertaking has a special personal significance for me -- I lived in Central America for many years and studied the conflicts that historically troubled the region.  I'm keenly aware of the structural roots of the problem that have led to a failure in the rule of law and a total lack of public security, where families fear they can no longer provide adequately for the safety and well being of their children." - Johanna Rousseaux

 As the number of unaccompanied children seeking safety in the United States increased over the Summer of 2014, Johanna Rousseaux and Jones Day stepped up to the plate to quickly lend a helping hand.  They continue to represent a number of Central American children facing deportation and are working on a pro bono basis to ensure that children who arrive at our border receive fair treatment under our laws.  Their help has been life changing for  these children, a number of whom are survivors of human trafficking or scaping brutal gang violence or other abuse in their homelands. We are extremely grateful for their help and support.

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Nadine Gedeon and Cristina Morales, Partners, Nadine Gedeon, P.A.

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Nadine Gedeon

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Cristina Morales 

"It was a wonderful experience to work on that case. We worked very hard but the results were very rewarding." - Cristina Morales


Nadine and Cristina committed to taking a pro bono case and AI Justice referred the case of a survivor of domestic violence who was detained at Broward Transitional Center while seeking asylum. Nadine and Cristina worked closely with AI Justice and diligently prepared for their client's day in court. Their client was granted asylum and can now begin rebuilding her life.

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AI Justice is an award-winning non-profit law and advocacy firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, we champion the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocate for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serve as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speak for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.