The Proskauer corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog

Pro Bono for Immigrant Families: Report from the Texas Border

The South Texas Family Residential Center here in Dilley, Texas is surrounded by metal fencing, video cameras, and tall light poles that you can see from miles away at night. The country’s largest immigration detention facility, it sprawls 50 acres and is comprised of 2,400 beds in a series of large barracks-style trailers which look eerily similar to pictures of the Japanese-American “relocation centers” during World War II.

I met more than 25 detained women and their children here. All are from El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala, and all but two suffered from some form of gang violence, severe domestic violence or in many cases, a combination of both. I heard stories from people who witnessed the murder of family members, and who themselves were subjected to unspeakable violent crime without protection from law enforcement. Continue Reading

Pro Bono for Immigrant Families at the South Texas Family Residential Center

As the Firm’s pro bono partner, I often have the privilege of looking beyond individual matters to see how we can make a difference on a wider scale. And at times I drop everything to immerse myself in a particularly important cause. For the week of June 17th, I am proud to report that I will be in Dilley, Texas representing women and children detainees for 12 hours a day at the country’s largest immigration detention center.

Working with the CARA Family Detention Project, I will be among a steady influx of volunteer lawyers joining in person to aid this cause. CARA began in response to the significant expansion of family detention on the border.

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The Value of Mentoring

We work with iMentor to empower first-generation students from low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college and achieve their ambitions. Last week, our mentees Elizabeth and Steven joined us at our New York City offices as part of iMentor’s “take your mentee to work day.”  Elizabeth and Steven are high school juniors at Bronx High School for Law and Community Service.

After picking our mentees up from the Bryant Park subway stop, we welcomed them to the office and gave them a tour of the space. Elizabeth then shadowed a finance conference call with corporate partner Ron Franklin, while Steven met with attorneys from various departments. No visit to the Proskauer offices would be complete without a trip to Shake Shack, enjoyed in our cafeteria at a table that gave us expansive views of the city. At lunch, we talked about our college experiences and our mentees’ future career goals. Our mentees asked a lot of questions about the transition to college (which is starting to feel like a long time ago for us!), and about why we decided to attend our respective colleges and ultimately decided to become lawyers. Continue Reading

Gun Safety Now

I was first affected by gun violence in 1993, when an armed gunman entered the conference room of a San Francisco law firm during a deposition and opened fire. Two people in that conference room were killed, and I knew both of them. One of the individuals who died was a partner at the firm I worked for after law school and the other was a lawyer my age from my home town, and he died shielding his wife from the gunfire. That event made me really think about the impact of gun violence and turned me into a longtime advocate of reasonable gun safety measures.

I attended the Conversation on Gun Safety which Proskauer hosted last week. We were honored to welcome as featured speakers John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety; Eric Tirschwell, Director of Litigation and National Enforcement Policy for Everytown; and Nathalie Arzu, a survivor of gun violence who is now an advocate for gun safety. Continue Reading

GrowNYC Project With Manhattan Hunter Science High School

It was a sunny afternoon in May when students from Proskauer’s Adopt-a-School Partner, Manhattan Hunter Science High School, and members of the Firm’s professional resources team boarded a ferry to Governors Island. Our primary objective was to assist with the expansion of the GrowNYC Teaching Garden. By the time we boarded the return ferry back to Manhattan, we had expanded the garden as well as our appreciation for the impactful work that GrowNYC is doing for our city.

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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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