The Proskauer corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog

Asylum Seekers Face More Uncertainty Under New USCIS Interview Scheduling Policy

In a crowded federal building earlier this month, against a backdrop of innocent child laughter and knowing adult tears, among joyful embraces and somber reassurances, a Proskauer client heard the last three digits of his alien registration number echo off the anxious faces around him, and he made his way to the window from where the voice rang. Seconds later—composing himself before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official on the other side of the glass—his fate came: “Congratulations, you have been granted asylum in the United States.”

Only six months after Immigration Equality, a leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization, referred this client to us, Proskauer successfully secured his right to remain in the United States indefinitely as an asylee, away from the persecution he had faced in his native country.

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Proskauer and A&E Assist Los Angeles Area Vets

My 16-year-old daughter, Helena, recently expressed an interest in helping veterans for a high school service project. I immediately took out my phone and emailed my partner Colleen Hart, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, who is heavily involved in veteran volunteer efforts.  Colleen wrote me back inviting Helena to help with the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Veterans Legal Services Project (VLSP), a clinic that assists Veterans with legal issues.

Helena worked with Colleen at the VLSP in March, and returned home telling me how much she enjoyed the experience and the meaningful work.  The clinic meets once a month, so I decided to join her the next time she went. In preparation, I took a training along with several attorneys from Proskauer and our client A&E Television Network.

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New Coalition Pressing for Court Reform in New York State

The Fund For Modern Courts and Proskauer hosted representatives from a diverse coalition of organizations in New York State and leaders of the state bar at our New York office on May 3 to discuss the necessity of court reform in New York.

The keynote speaker, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks, laid out three primary areas of concern.  First, he explained that the court’s structure itself, which consists of 11 overlapping trial courts with different levels of jurisdiction, is “confusing, cumbersome, and complicated.”  He stressed that adopting a simplified structure not only would relieve administrative costs but would also better serve the public.  To help illustrate his point, he added that Article VI of the New York Constitution (the highly detailed provision concerning the judiciary) contains 16,000 words as compared to the judiciary article in the U.S. Constitution which contains 375 words.

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Proskauer Housing Court Victory Highlights Importance of Universal Representation

When I walked into Manhattan Housing Court a few weeks ago, I knew we had a strong case.  Our client, a disabled 87-year-old woman, was facing eviction from the rent-controlled apartment where she has been living for more than 40 years.  Her landlord alleged that she had failed to pay rent that she had in fact paid.  The case should have been dismissed on that basis alone, but when the Proskauer team went before the judge to argue our motion for summary judgment, the judge asked whether our client owed rent for months not at issue in the lawsuit.

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Victory for a Vet

As part of Proskauer’s collaboration with the New York City Bar Justice Center, I recently had the honor of assisting an Army veteran in his claim for disability benefits before the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) alongside Alex Hill, Karen Levya-Drivin and Paul Ramundo from Bloomberg LP.

Injured while on active service overseas, the veteran sustained debilitating injuries that were controllable by medication, which he would have to continue taking for the rest of his life. When he returned home, he had a difficult time supporting himself as a result of his injury. He applied for disability benefits at the VA four times, but each time his claim was rejected, either for insufficient documentation or based on the VA policy applicable to his type of injury. In each case, the explanation from the VA was brief, and he did not understand why he kept getting turned down.

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NYU Takes on the Travel Ban

On March 30, 2018, Proskauer filed an amicus brief on behalf of New York University in the United States Supreme Court.  The brief was filed in support of the State of Hawaii and its challenge to Proclamation 9645, the most recent version of the Trump Administration’s “travel ban.”  The Proclamation at issue in the litigation sets significant restrictions on immigration from specified countries, most of which have a large Muslim-majority population.  Both the Fourth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit have upheld injunctions preventing the Proclamation from fully taking effect.

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Serving Our Community With the Bowery Mission

As part of our corporate social responsibility program at Proskauer, we focus on strategies to help improve the lives of vulnerable populations.

Since the Firm began its partnership with the Bowery Mission in December 2014, we have served over 4,000 meals and more than 150 volunteers have participated. The Bowery Mission has served homeless and hungry New Yorkers since 1879 and we appreciate being part of their transformative, compassionate care.

We enjoy making a difference together, and look forward to our next opportunity to serve meals and meet fellow New Yorkers at the Bowery Mission.

For additional photos, click here.

 

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