Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 42

THE PRO BONO EFFECT
I was also introduced to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center a few months after
I started my career at Sidley. I currently volunteer with the Center's Landlord
Tenant Resource Center, where I help tenants understand their legal needs
and connect them with the appropriate resources, and the Immigration Legal
Advice & Referral Clinic, which has been the most rewarding experience thus
far in my legal career.
Why does volunteering with the Immigration Legal Advice & Referral
Clinic hold special significance for you?
I remember what it was like immigrating to the United States alone as a
teenager. All I had were dreams of success, and I experienced so many difficulties . . . suffice it to say, I understand how tough the journey can be. I can relate
to the clients who come to the clinic because I have either been in their shoes
sometime in the past, or I have close friends who have faced similar concerns. I
once had to navigate several immigrant visa challenges, with little to no help, in
a country that was then foreign to me. I had no money to pay for a lawyer, and
the immigration laws were very confusing to me. I imagine recent immigrants
find the system even more confusing today, and I want to help others navigate
that journey. My work at the clinic is one small step toward achieving that goal.
And the clinic is a wonderful experience for both the clients and the volunteers.
A small army of nonattorney volunteers and interpreters help with client intake,
provide language translation services, and orient new volunteers. Attorney
volunteers like myself do client interviews where we try to get a sense of
the client's immigration situation and the particular matters they need help
with. The clinic has immigration subject matter experts on the premises,
and attorney volunteers consult with them to ensure that we have a robust
understanding of the legal and procedural options our clients have. We then
document these options for the clients and provide them with a detailed explanation. Oftentimes, our services help clients navigate complex immigration
laws, understand their rights, and most importantly, connect them with the
right resources.

"I remember what it
was like immigrating
to the United States
alone ... I imagine
recent immigrants find
the system even more
confusing today, and
I want to help others
navigate that journey.
My work at the
Immigration Legal
Advice & Referral
Clinic is one small
step toward achieving
that goal."

Have any experiences volunteering with the clinic been particularly
meaningful to you?
I have had several such experiences, but there's one that really resonated with
me. I once helped a young man navigate the U visa process. Despite the odds
against him, he had endured so much hardship to immigrate to the United
States, only to find himself the victim of a brutal hate crime. It was heartbreaking. He had no money, no family in the country, and no resources to lean
on. Our clinic consultation helped him navigate the U visa requirements and
begin the path toward documented legal status. It was encouraging to see that
despite its many deficiencies, the immigration system offered a path forward
for someone in his situation.
From my experience so far, I've learned that a large number of clients feel
helpless given the complexity of the current immigration landscape, and many
are unaware that there are resources available to help them navigate these
problems. I have seen minor, routine matters morph into long, intractable
struggles simply because a client was initially too scared or confused to
navigate a minor filing or submit a routine application or supporting documentation. I hope that continued outreach will encourage those in need of immigration legal advice to take advantage of the resources offered by the Pro Bono
Center and other legal services providers in the District. I also hope that more
attorneys will commit to helping this vulnerable population through pro
bono service.
What does it mean to you to be a lawyer practicing in the District?
I am thankful for the opportunity to be a helper in my community. Washington
probably has the highest number of lawyers per capita in the nation, but given
the historic challenges faced by poor communities, the LGBT community, and

42 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

MAY 2019

*

people of color in our nation's capital, the need for legal services far exceeds
the city government's capacity. We absolutely need pro bono lawyers to fill the
access-to-justice gap, and I encourage young associates to explore the opportunities provided by the Pro Bono Center - structured clinics and resource
centers where young associates can learn from experienced attorneys, volunteer, and give back to the community very early in their career.
Pro bono work is an opportunity to remain in touch with the reality of the challenges facing our low-income neighbors and to be a part of the solution. Our
justice system is understaffed, underfunded, overworked, and overburdened.
The system lacks the resources to carry out its mission to ensure equal access to
justice without the help of volunteers. As a young associate myself, I encourage
fellow associates to get involved in pro bono work as early as possible. Besides
the social and spiritual rewards associated with doing the right thing, young
attorneys should know that it's absolutely critical they get involved: Many times,
pro bono volunteers provide the sole avenue for underserved communities to
get access to justice. Without pro bono attorneys, the clinics I volunteer with
would be able to see only a small fraction of the clients they currently serve.

Interested in serving as an expert mentor with our
Immigration Legal Advice & Referral Clinic? If you are an
immigration attorney with at least five years of experience,
please email Adrian Gottshall at agottshall@dcbar.org.


https://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - May 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - May 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Cybersecurity Rules & Risks For The International Lawyer
Borders, Refugees & A Global Crisis
Climate Change: Turning To Law In Race Against Time
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Special Coverage: Youth Law Fair @ 20
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Cybersecurity Rules & Risks For The International Lawyer
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Borders, Refugees & A Global Crisis
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Climate Change: Turning To Law In Race Against Time
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 42
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Special Coverage: Youth Law Fair @ 20
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - May 2019 - Cover4
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com