Microsoft continues to be a corporate leader in the representation of unaccompanied children referred to KIND, and not just attorneys are volunteering their talents. Forty-six attorneys, 27 paralegals, 33 interpreters, and two law students have taken on asylum cases, special immigrant juvenile status filings, dependency claims, and more. These 108 volunteers come from all over Microsoft – from its legal department to software engineers to the marketing department–and all are making a difference in children’s lives.
Janet Gwilym, KIND Attorney Liaison at Microsoft, explains the process: “For each case we recruit an attorney, paralegal, and a business professional who serves as interpreter.” This comprehensive approach not only enables the child’s case to be handled by a group of dedicated and compassionate volunteers with a variety of expertise, but it also allows Microsoft employees to work together in new ways.
In addition to representation, Microsoft volunteers came together last month for their annual “Microsoft Day of Caring” in which participants worked on translation and research projects for KIND in Seattle and at its headquarters in Washington, DC.
Microsoft’s Pro Bono Steering Committee was key to making this all happen. KIND interviewed Beth Henderson, chair of the committee, to ask her about this work.
Why is it important for Microsoft attorneys to engage as advocates on behalf of unaccompanied children?
Microsoft has a strong tradition of giving back to the community and this is reflected in our citizenship mission, which is to serve globally the needs of communities and to fulfill our responsibilities to the public. By partnering with KIND and providing pro bono representation to vulnerable, unaccompanied children, we not only advance our citizenship mission by helping to fill a great need in our community, but we provide our legal department with fulfilling personal and professional development opportunities.
What makes Microsoft unique when taking on these pro bono cases?
KIND is Microsoft’s signature pro bono program, and we have volunteers from across the company who care about this issue and get involved with KIND cases. For instance, a team partnering on a case could be comprised of an attorney from our patent group, a paralegal from our litigation group, and an interpreter from a product group. The diversity of our company and our strong commitment to KIND allows us to provide a full range of support for these cases, which I think is unique.
What aspects of the issue resonate most with you and other volunteers at Microsoft?
I think what motivates many of us to get involved is knowing that these children journey to the United States to escape violence and peril and yet they don’t get a fair shot at finding safety here without a pro bono attorney. When I think about the time I spend on a KIND case in comparison to the long-term impact on a child’s life, it’s clear that I am making a smart and compassionate investment.