New York, New York – 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 New York 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 New York and thank them for their service to unaccompanied children:
Joseph Doll and Gregory Klein, Allen & Overy LLP
Despite having little time to prepare, Joe and Greg strongly advocated for their young client in Immigration court and fought to ensure his due process rights.
“I remember at the end of our first in-person meeting with our client we asked him what he wants to be when he grows up. He said he wants to be a lawyer that helps immigrants like him. It made me realize what a significant impact pro bono service can have on people’s lives, and how important it is that attorneys and firms like A&O invest their time and resources into pro-bono cases.” – Joseph Doll
“I will not forget the first time we met our client and his family. The relief they expressed after realizing we were there to join them in this fight is a powerful reminder of the profound impact we can have as attorneys.” – Gregory Klein
Ian Group, Esq.
Ian was a zealous advocate for his client, even after waiting for a decision on his asylum application for over three years. His client was finally granted asylum thanks to his determination and dedication.
“This experience reaffirmed in me the importance of using my professional skills for good. There is so much uncertainty in the world and throughout all the turmoil, I was able to provide to someone else an outcome of stability and safety. This experience turned out to be much more than pro bono legal work. It was a way to stand up and make a difference.”
Heather Schneider, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Heather Schneider advocated on behalf of a client whose appeal was unreasonably delayed by a government agency. The appeal was granted due to Heather’s tenacity. Now, a 17-year-old boy has a clear path to permanent residency.
“Although I’m a patent lawyer who is used to dealing with complicated legal issues, I was surprised to find out how difficult it can be to navigate the immigration system. That’s why the work KIND does with its pro bono partners like Willkie is so crucial. I’m honored to be a part of 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990