Atlanta, Georgia – As it prepares to mark the 12th annual National Celebration of Pro Bono at the end of October, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) today announced it is honoring outstanding pro bono attorneys in Atlanta who are providing vital legal services to refugee and immigrant children who come alone to the United States in search of safety. These attorneys, who serve as the heart of KIND’s mission, are volunteers who go above and beyond to help these children make their case for U.S. protection.
Children who come to KIND are among the most vulnerable in our society. Many have fled life-threatening violence, including gang and narco-violence in their home countries in Central America, and come to the United States in hopes of finding safety. They are not provided an attorney in their removal proceedings; without counsel, it is nearly impossible for them to navigate the U.S. immigration system.
“I could not be more pleased to honor our volunteers who truly live KIND’s mission – to protect unaccompanied children in their journey to safety,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “KIND’s volunteers are these children’s lifeline, providing legal assistance, interpretation, and other crucial support, as well as simply being a trusted and caring adult in the child’s life. These children have been through so much in their young lives, many fleeing violence and other danger, and KIND’s volunteers stand with them to help them access the protection they so need and deserve.”
Last year, KIND received over 175,000 hours and $103 million in pro bono legal services, bringing its total for pro bono services to more than 880,000 hours and $475 million in pro bono services since 2009. KIND’s pro bono legal volunteers do not need immigration experience. The organization provides expert training and mentorship for the duration of the cases. Attorneys who volunteer with KIND work directly with our child clients and gain valuable courtroom experience among other skills. Nearly all say that the most valuable part of their experience was getting to know the child clients and helping to change the trajectory of the child’s life.
KIND is thrilled to honor our 2020 volunteers in Atlanta and thank them for their service to unaccompanied children:
Christina Brown-Marshall, Fish & Richardson LLP
Christina has been providing legal representation to two children for the past three years. She successfully assisted both with obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), protection for children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Christina reaches out to her clients periodically to see how they are doing and alerts KIND when she believes clients need social services. Christina is also particularly skillful in strategizing for her clients.
“The most moving aspect of working on KIND cases is seeing first-hand the changes this work can make in a child’s life,” Christina said. “I will never forget listening to one of my KIND clients who had just received approval of his immigration application proudly describe his plans for pursuing an education that would have been unattainable in his home country. The opportunity to help make those kinds of changes is incredibly rewarding.”
Madison Burnett, Melana Kopman McClatchey, and Neal Bateman, attorneys; Stacey Brandenberg, paralegal; and Melinda Rodriguez, translator
This team has been representing their client for the last two years. They successfully helped him obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and also helped him file an asylum application. They also assisted him and his brother, who is also his sponsor, with accessing counseling services.
“As an immigrant, I know first-hand how important organizations like KIND are for people coming to the United States, said Melana Kopman McClatchey. “I am humbled to work with KIND and play a small part in the impactful work they do for so many children. Our client is a deserving young man and my hope is that our team can help him realize his American dream.”
Madison Burnett said, “Working on this case—our first with KIND—has been an amazing experience. It’s been challenging at times, but we’ve always had great support from the team at KIND. Our client is a great kid, and we’re doing what we can to help keep him safe. It’s a meaningful responsibility.”
Kaitlin Carreno, Eversheds Sutherland LLP
Kaitlin has gone above and beyond what we expect of a pro bono attorney. She has been on top of all of the work for all her cases. In a sense, she is a multi-person team all in one phenomenal woman.
“It has been an honor to volunteer with KIND to represent unaccompanied children, helping them secure a sense of peace and security so they can move forward and not live in fear.”
Russell Dunlap, Taylor English LLP
When Russell took on a case for a boy who was turning 18 just as the pandemic was starting, he was not deterred. He stayed on top of the case, filed all the paperwork in a timely manner, and even went out of his way to have documents translated for KIND to share with other pro bono attorneys.
“KIND has truly opened my eyes to a world and a perspective I did not know existed. I did not fully comprehend the struggles these children have gone through just to survive, and I did not fully appreciate how daunting our immigration system is to those merely seeking refuge. Sitting down on my first Zoom call with my first client seemed fairly impersonal at first, but as his story unfolded, I could clearly sense the pain and fear he had experienced even through the computer monitor and webcam. This organization does incredible things, and I am truly honored to have been given the opportunity to serve a child in need.”
David Glustrom from Glustrom Law and Khyshboo Patel from Holland & Knight LLP
David and Khyshboo are a husband and wife team who took on a case during COVID for a boy who was turning 18. David attended a virtual training and has done everything he can to get the case filed, despite many challenges. They have dealt with the crunch of time and difficulties of remote lawyering during COVID to still work through the necessary filings and deadlines.
“In our communications with our client and his sponsor (his cousin), it was immediately apparent how caring they both were of each other and those around them. It would be amazing to get a good result for them because they truly deserve it!”
KIND’s presented its national 2020 awards to DLA Piper, Jones Day, and JP Morgan Chase. As dedicated KIND pro bono partners, these honorees have demonstrated in a variety of ways their extraordinary commitment to ensuring that unaccompanied children have a fair chance to make their case and are not returned to the very danger from which they fled.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, email@example.com, 202-631-9990