Honoring our Boston Pro Bono Attorneys

October 4, 2021

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is proud to honor pro bono attorneys who are providing vital legal services to refugee and immigrant children. KIND’s pro bono attorneys are at the core of KIND’s mission and go above and beyond to help unaccompanied children. They play a critical role in ensuring children receive the protections they deserve as they journey to the U.S. so they can live a life free of fear.

KIND is thrilled to honor our 2021 volunteers and attorneys and thank them for their service to unaccompanied children. Find out more about the attorneys from our Boston office:

Julio Cortés del Olmo, Del Olmo Law

Boston KINDness Matters Awardee of the Year

Many children arrive into the U.S. escaping horrific violence in their countries and have to appear in Court not represented by counsel. In immigration court, a child has the right to be represented by an attorney if the kid’s family can afford to pay legal fees. Otherwise, children in deportation proceedings do not have a right to an attorney paid by the government. This is unfair. While there are great organizations like KIND partnering children with pro bono counsel, immigrant children should not be forced to represent themselves in immigration court.


Ritika Bhakhri, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP

Boston Pro Bono Advocate of the Year

On my first day at Nutter, I began work on my first KIND case with a senior associate. It was not the typical asylum case for us since, in addition to demonstrating why our client deserves asylum, we had to prove that he was statutorily eligible. Before the asylum interview, we met with our client several times, and I went along with him to his various appointments. I felt a special connection with our client, not only because he was my first client ever, but also because his story was so compelling. That’s what made one recent day in December so memorable. During the holidays, I received a string of photos on WhatsApp from an unknown number. As I looked closer, I realized that the client had sent me photographs of papers he received in the mail informing him of the approval of his asylum application. We were both close to tears when I called him. An amazing miracle given the challenging circumstances! The relief I felt for our client and also the sense of accomplishment that I had been able to contribute to this case (in whatever small way) were both very enjoyable.

Sara Silva, Mai-Khoi Nguyen-Thanh, David Strauss, Hogan Lovells LLP and Boston Scientific

Boston Pro Bono Team of the Year

With expert guidance from the staff at KIND, attorneys from many different specialties can use their skills to help unaccompanied children and their families. Despite being experienced lawyers, our team of Hogan Lovells and Boston Scientific lawyers have varied backgrounds in corporate, litigation, and regulatory law, but not immigration. From the start, KIND provided us with the support we needed to make smart decisions for each of our clients such as in-person and Zoom trainings, a web-based knowledge bank, and sample pleadings, and, critically, an amazing mentor attorney, Liz Ahmadi. Liz is consistently available to answer our questions, proof our documents, and generally help us strategize the best approaches for our clients. And when our clients’ needs extend beyond the legal world (as they sometimes do), Liz connects us with KIND’s Social Services Coordinators, who have deep experience navigating the financial, medical, housing, educational, and social difficulties that unaccompanied children often face.

With KIND’s support, our clients are on the pathway to lawful residency and safe, stable lives. Helping our clients weather the significant challenges they face in real time has been profoundly rewarding, and we hope hearing about our experiences encourages other attorneys to have a go at this essential work.

We spent many evenings and weekend afternoons with our clients, getting to know their families’ stories (often over pizza and coloring books). Setting meetings at times and places that work best for our clients, sharing meals together, and providing fidgets and other ways to lighten the mood helps to establish trust between us, which in turn leads to more open conversations and opportunities for effective advocacy. We feel privileged when our clients open up to us about their journey and entrust us with faithfully telling their story and representing them in their cases.