For the 8th election cycle in a row, Proskauer hosted an Election Protection call center on November 7th and 8th in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which spearheads a national, nonpartisan effort that provides comprehensive information and assistance to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote. This year, Proskauer answered calls from Ohio. Our volunteers answered questions about a wide variety of issues such as polling locations and voter identification requirements, while also compiling reports of long lines, voter intimidation and electioneering activities in and around polling sites and relaying that information to the on-the-ground Lawyers’ Committee team stationed throughout Ohio.
On October 20th, we were so pleased to welcome Match Charter Public High School back to our offices for the first time since the pandemic began, when we met with the 2022-23 class of juniors. Since 2016, our Boston office has partnered with Match Charter Public High School through our Adopt-a-School program, which is the Firm’s signature education initiative, connecting students from public and charter high schools throughout the country to meaningful workshops, discussions and panels designed to increase their college and career readiness. Activities leverage the expertise of our lawyers and business professionals and successfully help students develop new skills, build relationships, and identify new career paths and passions – inspiring our future leaders to realize their full potential. Since launching our Boston program, we have engaged 275 Proskauer volunteers who worked with 125 students across 51 workshops.
Proskauer’s participation in Election Protection, through hosting a call center with Firm, client and alumni volunteers across the United States, provides an invaluable service to individual voters ensuring they have an equal opportunity to cast their ballot. This volunteer experience also provides great insight into the current condition of democracy in America. It lays bare some fundamental weaknesses in the US electoral systems of voting, but also suggests a potential roadmap for reform.
One thing becomes clear to anyone who takes part in this effort – the US does not have a system of voting but rather has many systems, each controlled on the local level. From registering to vote to voting itself, including voter ID laws and the ability to vote by mail, elections vary widely from state to state.
Rules change as soon as one crosses state lines and even county lines in some instances, causing widespread voter confusion. The essential and what should be fairly straightforward act of voting in the US has become too complicated.
For the past 14 years, Proskauer has partnered with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in its Election Protection initiative, a nonpartisan project mobilizing law firms, law schools, in-house counsel, and other members of the legal community to ensure every vote is counted fairly and equally. Proskauer will again host a national call center to provide comprehensive voting information, as well as monitor election-related issues.
Countdown to Election Day: Making Your Voting Plan
In the midst of a pandemic and with less than a month until Election Day, every American must have a plan to ensure their vote is cast. If you choose to vote in person, locate your local polling place online or through the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, arrange for transportation, and no matter how long the wait may be: stay in line. Make sure you know your polling place’s hours, and bring the documentation your state requires. Review your employer’s policies regarding taking time off to vote, and arrange for childcare, if necessary.
Many immigrant families in the U.S. live with the fear that their loved ones will be detained on very short notice during Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids. Just this week, a Proskauer pro bono volunteer answered a call to the Immigration Helpline from a woman seeking help after her undocumented husband was arrested and detained by officials she feared were immigration officers. She did not know why he was taken, where she could go to see him, and whether he was going to be incarcerated or deported.
Unfortunately, this caller’s experience is commonplace under U.S. immigration policy. In July 2019, the federal government announced nationwide ICE raids targeting immigrant families in major U.S. cities. At the time, the President characterized the coordinated raids as a “major operation,” threatening to send undocumented and other removable immigrants into detention and out of the country. Shortly after the President’s announcement, Proskauer pro bono attorneys and staff sprung to action, working through the weekend, to answer calls from immigrants fearing these raids.
On June 1 and 2, more than 45 volunteers across Proskauer’s US offices assisted voters in exercising their right to vote through a virtual Election Protection call center in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Election Protection project strives to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the voting process, regardless of political affiliation.
While Proskauer has proudly hosted Election Protection call centers in its offices over the past decade, operating the call center for the state primary elections this year was uniquely challenging, and all-the-more important, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proskauer honored its lawyers and staff who have made significant contributions to the Firm’s pro bono and corporate social responsibility programs this year at its 12th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony on January 22. The following is a list of recipients alphabetically by project.
Protecting Immigrant Youth
Team New Orleans: Catholic Charities-Archdiocese of New Orleans – Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
In collaboration with Catholic Charities-Archdiocese of New Orleans, this team successfully represented six immigrant children from Honduras and El Salvador in obtaining predicate orders from Louisiana juvenile courts finding that the children cannot be reunified with one or both of their parents due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect, and that it would not be in the children’s best interest to return to their home countries. These predicate orders open the door for these children to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, an immigration remedy that would protect these children from deportation and give them a pathway to lawful permanent residence in the United States.
I recently joined the board of Her Justice, a nonprofit legal services organization in New York City and longtime partner of Proskauer that provides assistance to women and their families living in poverty who have high-stakes legal needs.
I was introduced to the organization by a friend and former colleague, and over the past few years have come to understand their mission and approach. Seeing the many women in our city experiencing pain and fear due to unaffordable housing, parenting children with insufficient income or job prospects, abandonment, and abuse, I felt compelled to become more involved.
The staff lawyers at Her Justice train and supervise thousands of volunteer lawyers who are mobilized to help women in need throughout New York City. In 2018 alone, Her Justice organized more than 76,000 volunteer hours helping nearly 10,000 women and children.