Her Justice is a non-profit that recruits caring, talented attorneys from New York City’s law firms, including Proskauer, to provide free legal help in the areas of family, divorce and immigration law to women living in poverty, most of whom are victims of domestic violence.
I first got involved with Her Justice as a summer associate. Since then, I have dedicated my pro bono efforts to Her Justice clients, most notably to Valerie* and her three daughters.
Valerie made the painful yet courageous choice to leave her daughters in the care of trusted relatives when she moved to New York City to pursue a safer environment and more promising future for her family away from the dangerous city of Puebla, Mexico. After living with several family members, Valerie’s daughters faced homelessness and suffered emotionally and physically from seven years of separation from their mother.
While I had already submitted U Visa applications for Valerie and her daughters—a form of immigration relief for victims of domestic violence—there is a statutory cap on the number of U Visas the government can approve each year, and once that cap is reached, petitioners are placed on a waiting list until new visas become available. For the past several years, the number of U Visa petitioners has far exceeded the number of available visas, which has resulted in an ever-growing U Visa waiting list.
With their health and safety in jeopardy, time was running out, and Valerie’s daughters urgently needed to be reunited with their mother. Through conversations with Her Justice, I realized that, due to the waiting list, I could no longer rely on the government granting U Visas to Valerie’s children, and discovered that only a rarely granted type of immigration status—humanitarian parole—could bring the girls to the United States. Despite the fact that approximately less than 25% of applications are approved, I went to work compiling seemingly endless documentation and securing the numerous requirements needed to complete the application. After nine long months of countless phone calls, meetings and document filings, Valerie’s daughters were granted humanitarian parole. I was finally able to reunite this family and give Valerie and her girls a chance to thrive, together.
In addition to seeking support from volunteer attorneys who take on pro bono cases, Her Justice also relies on the support of institutional sponsors and partners. Not only do I support Her Justice through pro bono work, but I am also a member of their Junior Advisory Board, which is dedicated to expanding Her Justice’s network of young professional volunteers and donors. I continuously work to recruit my fellow associates at the Firm to take pro bono cases from Her Justice to help more women and children get the justice they deserve.
Your support can help Her Justice enable the City’s most vulnerable women and children to obtain the pro bono legal services they need to achieve safety, stability and self-sufficiency.
To find out more about how you can volunteer with Her Justice, visit their website at www.herjustice.org.
*Client’s name has been changed to protect her identity.