Professional Resources

2018 AILA Chapter Pro Bono Champions

6/6/18 AILA Doc. No. 18060740.


Margo Cowan

Margo's life work has been to serve the disadvantaged. Prior to becoming a lawyer she was a farm worker organizer with the privilege of being mentored by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Margo's efforts in the areas of border and immigration policy, as well as the development and representation of undocumented persons and refugees, has spanned for decades. In addition to being a Defense Attorney for the Law Offices of the Pima County Public Defender, Margo also maintains an immigration caseload and is a leader in the community. She supervises a Legal Clinic the first and third Saturday of every month to assist individuals with immigration issues and citizenship applications. She is the main counsel for the Sanctuary 2014-2015 movement where churches and synagogues offer sanctuary to the undocumented facing deportation. Margo also co-founded the organization No More Deaths, a group that provides assistance to migrants returning from the U.S. to the border towns of Mexico with the sole purpose to reduce the amount of deaths in the Arizona Desert. For over 30 years, Margo has selflessly given of herself to the cause. She is a beacon of light to the most vulnerable and a tireless warrior for humanity. The AILA Arizona Chapter is proud to recognize Margo's work and dedication with the 2018 Chapter Pro Bono Champion award.


Jessica Wallace

Jessica Wallace is a community advocate for the rights of immigrants and socially conscious policy changes. Jessica brings a compassionate and personal approach to everything she does. She has provided Know Your Right workshops throughout the Upstate community, including churches and local high schools. She held a spring and fall Lunch and Learn Series to answer high school students' immigration questions. She participated in DACA Workshops at Legacy Early College and Berea High School, as well as the DACA student "Circle of Trust" at Hispanic Alliance College Fair and in collaboration with a local technical college. She also held the 3rd Annual Citizenship Application Workshop, where $24,500 in pro bono work was donated by local attorneys. More than 30 individuals are on their way to becoming U.S. citizens -- and that was just in 2017. Finally, she was a part of volunteer team participation in Latin American Coalition Citizenship Workshop in Charlotte, NC. Jessica exemplifies leadership, diversity of perspective, and a desire to help others improve their quality of life.

Central Florida

Ericka Curran

The Central Florida Chapter is proud to select Professor Ericka Curran as our Chapter Pro Bono Champion. As a citizen of the world, Professor Curran has served her communities as a social worker, a domestic violence shelter owner, a legal advocate, and an immigration attorney. After working as an attorney with the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid's Refugee Immigration Project, she created and headed the Immigrant and Human Rights Clinic at Florida Coastal School of Law. For the past ten years, Professor Curran has inspired and directed over 419 law students representing 1,658 clients fleeing horrific persecution, as well as victims of crime and human trafficking who are sometimes detained and facing deportation. Professor Curran is also the director of Clinical Programs and teaches Immigration Law and International Human Rights at Florida Coastal School of Law. Professor Curran has shaped the minds of future generations of attorneys, advocates, teachers, authors, business owners, politicians, and all others fortunate enough to have been instructed or mentored by her. Professor Curran's selfless dedication to the immigrant community, her students, and the attorneys she mentors is nothing short of absolutely inspirational. She also regularly organizes trainings and workshops for the community and helps organize and run large impact events such as Citizenship Day, where each year over 100 applicants are assisted in filing for U.S. Citizenship.


Ericka McFee

Ericka A. McFee is a solo practitioner and ardent supporter of access to justice initiatives in Chicago and beyond. She started her career as an associate at a large firm that partnered with area non-profit organizations, giving her the opportunity to represent individuals seeking asylum, DACA, and citizenship. Not long thereafter, she took a leap of faith by leaving the firm to launch her solo practice. This gave her the flexibility to take on a wide variety of cases while continuing to partner with non-profit organizations and assisting people who deserve legal representation, irrespective of income. Ericka volunteered with her fellow Chicago chapter members at the detention center in Dilley, Texas in September 2016, as well as at the O'Hare International Airport in the wake of the administration's travel ban efforts in 2017. She currently serves on a number of Chicago chapter committees that focus on providing pro bono representation, and is part of the Justice Entrepreneurs Project, a network of independent solo/small firms dedicated to providing quality legal services that are affordable for people with low to moderate incomes.

Renae Yoo

Renae Yoo chairs the AILA Chicago committee that coordinates the monthly pro bono immigration clinic at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS). In the wake of the presidential election, she worked to expand the clinic's capacity to serve the community by creating training and mentoring opportunities for new immigration attorneys and for other CVLS clinics. She is a member of the fundraising committee for the Young Center for Immigrant's Children's Rights, which she joined after several years volunteering with the organization as a Child Advocate for UAC's, and regularly volunteers for N-400 workshops with The Resurrection Project. She previously volunteered for workshops with Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) and DACA workshops with The Resurrection Project, and has volunteered twice with CARA in Dilley. She is the former chair of the Chicago Bar Association Immigration & Nationality Law Committee, where she organized monthly CLE presentations for Chicago immigration practitioners. She dedicates a significant portion of her practice to pro bono cases and enjoys mentoring new attorneys.


Petula McShiras

The Colorado Chapter is proud to select Petula McShiras as a Chapter Pro Bono Champion. She has served as the Chair of our Access to Services Committee, where she has been actively involved in updating Colorado's directory of pro bono and low bono resources. She has also been passionately involved in working with other non-attorney stakeholders in coordinating Colorado state's rapid response plans, all while working in a busy practice.


Anna Cabot

The Connecticut chapter is very proud to select Anna Cabot for this award. Anna is in her fourth year as the William R. Davis Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She has spent those years teaching students how to compassionately and successfully represent refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Also, for the past three years, Anna has organized the Immigration Detention Service Project, an alternative spring break project wherein numerous law students, attorneys, social work students and social workers spend the week of spring break in York, PA, assisting detained asylum seekers with their cases. Many detainees who have been assisted by this project have been successful with their asylum applications, which likely would not have been the case without the assistance of this project. We want to thank Anna very much for her hard work in coordinating and participating in this project for three years, and allowing many of her colleagues the opportunity to participate in this great work as well.


Audra Doyle

Audra has been involved with the MAPP committee for the last two years. She has dedicated many hours to working with service men and women who need legal assistance but aren't able to afford it. Every year, the MAPP committee works with military bases in our area to coordinate legal clinics for our service members.

Noemi Puntier

Noemi is known to always be handling a pro bono case. She is always willing to help those who need it. She considers her career a vocation, a calling to help others with what she does. She works tirelessly for her clients and has a big heart for those who are caught up in the detention system.


Rachel Van Tyle

Rachel is an active AILA member and currently serves as Director of Immigrant Services and Senior Staff Attorney at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, which works to provide access to justice for all individuals in our state. Rachel is passionate about her work in the immigrant community and in addition to her regular duties with the Clinic, she volunteers extra time to encourage and train private attorneys to take on more pro bono cases and help this vulnerable population. She offers time, service, and education to anyone who needs or wants it, and her commitment to this work is amazing. She's a go-to resource for AILA members throughout the state, and the Indiana chapter is incredibly proud to have her as a member.


Christopher Rottler

Christopher Rottler was chosen as the Iowa/Nebraska Chapter Pro Bono Champion for his fast and furious work defending the Burmese refugees who have been interviewed by a CIS investigator in the past few months in Des Moines. When Burmese refugees first began to get letters asking them to voluntarily (usually) appear for interviews, Chris helped call together a meeting of Burmese refugees on a Saturday (Feb 24th), and over 50 refugees attended that meeting. Chris then hosted several meetings of pro bono attorneys in his private offices to discuss the strategy of defending these refugees, and he was the first to actually attend one of these interviews with a refugee. He also staffed a clinic held on March 3rd to assist all refugees who had received interviews to file FOIA applications to obtain copies of their I-590s and other documents in preparation for future interviews. Chris has been interviewed by the media about this event, and has been a much-sought-after resource by other immigration attorneys and refugee assistance organizations throughout the country who call him for information and advice as refugees in their areas begin to receive these letters and prepare for their own interviews.


Hamama Litigation Team

On Sunday, June 11, 2017, 114 Iraqi nationals with prior removal orders (some decades old) were detained across the country. Within weeks, this number would increase to over 250 Iraqi nationals detained nationally. While the detentions were occurring, attorneys and volunteers with CODE Legal Aid in Michigan worked through the night collecting critical individual information on all persons detained. The Hamama Litigation Team (CODE Legal Aid, ACLU of Michigan with cooperating attorneys, the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, and the law firm of Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone, PLC, William Swor, the ACLU of New Mexico, and the International Refugee Assistance Project) filed a habeas corpus class action petition and request for preliminary injunction seeking a stay of removal in federal district court. Since then, the litigation has continued at a brisk pace and preliminary injunctions will be argued before a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit on April 25, 2018.

While all of this was occurring in federal court, a subset of these same attorneys started the massive effort to prepare motions to reopen for each of the 250+ detained class members. Further, the Hamama team created a website with model pleadings, expert affidavits, country condition reports, and more to support the legal community providing pro bono, low bono, and paid representation for the Iraqi nationals. The team is remarkable. Their extraordinary efforts are exemplified in the ambitious results they have already accomplished.


William Gill

William Gill has volunteered with the Catholic Charities of East Tennessee Office of Immigrant Services since the summer of 2016. He has been assisting the DOJ Accredited Representative there, and others in the office, with some of their most complex cases. William has also been a reliable pro bono attorney for the Community Legal Center. He has taken on multiple SIJS predicate orders in the Knoxville area and readily assists other volunteers when they have questions about that process. William has recruited other pro bono attorneys in East Tennessee to assist with Community Legal Center cases. He was also instrumental in coordinating with Chapter attorneys to present a CLE in Knoxville covering children's asylum and SIJS cases, with an eye toward recruiting more volunteer attorneys in those areas. In addition to handling his caseload, William is the Director of Legal Writing and Assessment and an Assistant Professor of Law at LMU Duncan and he serves on the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TJFA) Immigration Taskforce, conferring regularly to promote awareness of immigrants' needs across the state and collaborate to meet those needs.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (CCDBR) has been tirelessly fulfilling its mission of "welcoming the stranger" for decades. Within the Immigration Legal Services Division, the staff of immigration attorneys and DOJ Accredited Representatives handle cases before USCIS, host a Citizenship Day clinic every year, provide KYR seminars in the Baton Rouge area, represent immigrants (including children and asylees) in non-detained removal proceedings, and detainees in the LaSalle ICE Processing Center and the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center. The Refugee Resettlement Division assist refugees arriving in the US for the first time. CCDBR recently secured a grant to partner with Southern University Law Center to establish the Southern University Immigration Law Clinic for Inclusivity and Racial Healing. The aim of the clinic is to provide opportunities for law students at an HBC to gain hands on experience in immigration law and work with individuals from other cultures to forge cross-cultural relationships.


Mirella Ceja-Orozco

The Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter selects Mirella Ceja Orozco as the 2018 Chapter Pro Bono Champion. Mirella, Adjunct Professor at the James H. Binger Center for New Americans at the University of Minnesota Law School and staff attorney at Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, is a bright star in our local immigration bar and a true pro bono champion. She has provided dozens of hours of pro bono service at legal clinics, has offered full representation to applicants for U visa, naturalization, DACA, asylum and T visa matters, has given numerous community presentations on behalf of local nonprofit organizations, and has given crucial assistance in the development and launch of nonprofit organization initiatives, including the Family Unity Clinic, a joint project of Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) and Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN), and the Minnesota Immigrant and Refugee Rights Helpline at ILCM. Most notably, Mirella played a pivotal role in work with individuals on the "Somali 92" flight, a December 2017 incident widely reported in the national news. She traveled to Florida to screen detainees and draft affidavits, coordinated media interviews to effectively disseminate accurate information about what happened, and provided zealous pro bono representation to her own Somali 92 client. In addition, Mirella provided comprehensive support to other Somali 92 flight through mentorship, legal support, and strategy development for pro bono attorneys. Mirella is a passionate advocate who is remarkably dedicated to pro bono service. She is a true asset to and model for our Minnesota/Dakotas chapter.

New York

Matthew Bray

AILA's New York Chapter has selected Matthew Bray as the 2018 Chapter Pro Bono Champion. The founder and Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Matthew Bray, he has been active in the fight for human and immigrant rights since 1996, having worked over the years with numerous activist and advocacy groups in New York, California, and overseas. Matt has been one of the most fiercely committed members of the AILA New York Pro Bono Committee for many years. Faultlessly generous with his knowledge and time, Matt has dedicated countless hours to the Committee and pro bono causes. He served as Co-Chair of the Pro Bono Committee from 2014-2016 and continues to be an avid volunteer and the backbone of our New York City Immigrant Advocacy Initiative (NYCIAI) pro bono clinics. At these clinics, Matt is critical to ensuring that AILA provides valuable free legal advice to the community while cultivating the next generation of AILA volunteers through his mentorship and example. Adept at answering complex crim-immigration and deportation defense questions off the top of his head, eager to jump in to one-on-one consultations, and always ready with a good war story, Matt is a role model and inspiration - reminding all that our law licenses come with an obligation and privilege to ensure that high-quality legal services are available to all.

Northern California

Helen Lawrence

AILA NorCal selects Helen Lawrence for the Chapter Pro Bono Champion award for 2018. Helen is an attorney in private practice who runs her own law firm and still finds time to be an active volunteer with the chapter (she is nominated to be our incoming Treasurer for 2018-2019) and to engage in a wide variety of pro bono direct representation activities including approximately half a dozen trips to Artesia, Dilley, and Karnes to provide free legal services from 2014-2017. Helen also went to Greece for two weeks in 2016 to provide legal assistance in refugee camp on a Greek island near Turkey. Since November of 2017, she began providing free/donation-based naturalization applications, with most people paying a nominal fee of approximately two hundred dollars. She has submitted approximately 12 such cases and the program is ongoing. With the termination of the DACA program, she immediately began to offer free DACA renewals. With the termination of Salvadoran TPS, she has been doing free legal consults for Salvadorans with TPS. She has also provided pro bono representation in three affirmative and five defensive cases including two detained clients. She has also volunteered to present in over a dozen trainings from 2014-present.


The Friend of the Court and Unaccompanied Minor Pro Bono Program (est. 2013)

The Friend of the Court and Unaccompanied Minor Pro Bono Program is a specialized program that is fully grant-funded. This program provides free assistance to children at the Cleveland Immigration Court, including explaining what to expect at their hearing, providing them with important warnings from the Court, educating them on the court process, and providing them with information to connect with free or low-cost legal service providers. This program assists children statewide.


Maria Cobarrubias

Maria practices law in Salem and Hood River, Oregon. She has dedicated countless pro bono hours to volunteering at Naturalization clinics and Consultation Clinics to low-income immigrants and refugees in Oregon. Additionally, Maria provides pro bono naturalization support to immigrants in Hood River by partnering with a local ESL teacher who teaches Citizenship Preparation classes. Maria is also engaged in a pro bono project through the Oregon National Guard, in which she travels to Portland 1-2 times a months to provide free consultations to military families or those that are thinking of joining the National Guard. She also gives a discount if retained by those families to make services more affordable. Maria travels far and wide to support low-income immigrant families in Oregon.

Raquel Hecht

Raquel practices law in Eugene, Oregon. Over the past five years, Raquel started a non-profit organization in Lane County called GLAD (Grupo Latino de Accion Directa) that has grown tremendously and serves to promote Latino interests and provide free informational and educational services to community members. As a founding member and current vice-president of GLAD, Raquel has organized numerous informational events for Latinos to discuss both political and immigration issues. She has spoken at numerous events to provide information on DACA at schools and churches. Raquel also handles a number of pro bono cases for clients who are in imminent danger of being deported. She has spent hundreds, if not more than 1,000 hours, providing pro bono representation to low income immigrants in Oregon. Raquel has been a leader in Eugene and has inspired other attorneys in the area to join her work.

Rome District

Mahsa Khanbabai

Mahsa Khanbabai has been involved in extensive pro bono work related to the travel ban, including volunteering at the airport, speaking at community organizations, as well as many free consultation appointments. She also handled the Hashemi travel ban waiver case very low bono. She performs regular pro bono work for homeless kids that have immigration issues through a local organization in MA that provides them with tutoring and school supplies. Recently, she started doing the same for a local community agency that works with kids in need, many of whom with immigration issues. Finally she has provided free seminars at a local high school that has a very large immigrant population, many of whom undocumented, when there were talks of raids, etc.

San Diego

Miko Tokuhama-Olsen

Miko Tokuhama-Olsen has spent her entire career (almost 23 years so far and counting) at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego (LASSD). In addition to her work at LASSD, Miko is the San Diego Chapter's Pro Bono committee chair and served as chair of the chapter for two consecutive terms. Through the years, Miko has selflessly used her time to assist other nonprofits in trainings, mentoring and just being around to answer questions, be a voice of reason and share her institutional knowledge of all things immigration. Whether it's helping the ABA Immigration Justice Project run their Model Hearing Program, providing lunch and learns for BIA Recognized Organizations and Accredited Representatives or being the liaison for meetings with government agencies and other NGOs, Miko is a constant in San Diego's immigration community. Everyone in our community knows her, her work, her character and much like Bono, by just the one-word name: Miko. She is never one to seek out recognition or credit for all the things she does behind the scenes, which is why our chapter selects her as our Chapter Pro Bono Champion.

Santa Clara Valley

Volunteer Attorneys of Santa Clara Valley AILA Chapter at Jewish Family Services

In 2011, the American Immigration Lawyers' Association, Silicon Valley Chapter (AILA) and Jewish Family Services (JFS) launched a monthly pro bono immigration legal clinic to serve the needs of refugees, asylees, and immigrants in Santa Clara County. The clinic provides clients with valuable legal advice and assistance relating to all areas of immigration law. It specializes in helping refugees and asylees obtain adjustment of status and naturalization. Clients we help through the clinic are from all over the world; particularly from Iran, Iraq, FSU, Afghanistan, Mexico, and Ethiopia. Their ages range from newborns to people in their nineties. Some are gainfully employed, while others are full-time students or retirees. Most of the clients struggle financially. JFS provides the following services: outreach to applicants, translation and interpretation services, legal assistance, administrative assistance, and a space for the clinic. AILA provides the attorneys. Merle Kahn, a former JFS SV board member and a member of AILA is the founder and organizer of our legal clinic. The Santa Clara Valley Chapter is grateful to Merle for organizing this clinic with JFS SV. JFS is also grateful for the voluntary participation of AILA attorneys who participate in the clinic and for the many hours they donate to give newcomers to America a new life. These people didn't choose to be refugees, but the immigration legal clinic attorneys choose to help our refugees get one step closer to freedom. Immigration Legal Clinic attorneys' compassion and support makes the world's most vulnerable peoples' dreams come true.

Daniel Shanfield

Daniel Shanfield founded the AILA immigration clinic in partnership with the Mexican Consulate that helps serve the Mexican community in the South Bay. He serves as the liaison between AILA and the Mexican Consulate in San Jose. He ensures that the immigration clinic is staffed by volunteer attorneys, and has overseen DACA Workshops at the Consulate. The AILA Immigration Clinic at the Mexican Consulate in San Jose takes place twice a month, and provides Mexican nationals with free immigration consultations with an AILA attorney. An individual attorney is expected to see up to five people at each clinic. During these free consultations, individuals are screened for any immigration remedy that may be available and are told how to obtain relief. Over the years, Daniel has consulted with the Mexican Consulate and worked with updating them and training them on changes in immigration law, such as DACA and I-601A provisional waivers, to ensure that all Mexican nationals receive proper immigration advice. Daniel has also been selected to participate in the PALE program that pairs low-income, Mexican nationals, with reputable attorneys to assist them with immigration, criminal or family law-related matters.

Southern California

Richard Wilner

Richard Wilner has taken close to one dozen pro bono immigration cases for veterans, as well as one Purple Heart award case. He instructed the Veterans Legal Institute, a 501(c)(3) that provides free legal services to homeless and low income veterans, to send over cases for veterans that are low-income and in need. Additionally, he recently accepted an invitation to serve with the Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP). OC GRIP is a law enforcement partnership that identifies at-risk youth and aims to increase school attendance and decrease gang activity. Richard will be presenting seminars on U.S. immigration law to the parents of the kids who get assigned to the GRIP. Richard also works pro bono on visas for victims of trafficking. He served on the Orange County Bar Association's (anti) Human Trafficking Task Force while it existed and continues to assist victims if they are brought to his office by Orangewood, the public defender's' office, Salvation Army, and other organizations. Richard Wilner was designated VLI's attorney award recipient for its 2016 Lawyers for Warriors event. Since then, Richard has also joined the VLI board and serves as an ambassador for the organization encouraging other attorneys to commit to pro bono.

South Florida

The Somali Litigation Project

Clinical Professor Rebecca Sharpless, University of Miami School of Law, mobilized a team of nonprofits and pro bono attorneys to stop ICE from re-attempting to deport Somalis from an aborted flight that landed in Senegal. She mobilized pro bono attorneys within days to meet with Somalis at Krome and Glades to determine what happened on the flightl. She went to court and obtained an emergency injunction, and has mobilized attorneys across the country to take on these cases pro bono with motions to reopen and applications for underlying relief. Miami's Immigration Clinic has also taken on a large number of these cases for representation. Many of these individuals suffered dire conditions in Somalia and came to the U.S. as refugees. When their cases were denied, they were given orders of supervision. After Somalia was placed on the travel ban, the Trump Administration began pressuring the Somalia government to issue travel documents. Rebecca's legal skills and her ability to inspire others to follow in her footsteps is why the Somali Litigation Project is deserving of this award, with honorable mentions to Jessica Shulruff of AIJustice and Andrea Montalvan of Broward Legal Aid, who have shared responsibility in this endeavor.

Following the litigation of the Somali Detainees, nonprofit organizations, Americans for Immigrant Justice, Broward County Legal Aid, the AILA South Florida Chapter, and South Florida law students have worked to place these detainees' cases with pro bono attorneys across the nation to provide representation in Motions to Reopen. The group has been working to develop resources, trainings, and mentorship models for pro bono attorneys. This project demonstrates the sheer amount of work that can be done when groups work together and engage pro bono volunteers.


Samantha Del Bosque

Our chapter selects Samantha del Bosque, Senior Staff Attorney at Tahirih Justice Center, for the AILA Chapter Pro Bono Champion. She has dedicated her entire career to representing low-income immigrants in the Houston area. She is passionate about her work and fights tirelessly for her clients. She has trained countless pro bono attorneys in the Houston area in her time with Tahirih Justice Center and continues to partner with them on cases every day. She also provides technical assistance to attorneys all over the state and country. She is on the AILA Asylum Committee and has devoted much of her time to assisting attorneys in contacting the Asylum Office, as well as drafting practice advisories and mentoring colleagues.


Ann Benson

Ann Benson is known as the go-to source for the immigration consequences of Washington state criminal problems. This year she organized and chaired the Justice Advocacy Network (JAN) which was established to coordinate policy work and advocacy in light of the administration's deportation efforts. Ann Benson played a key role in the recent passage of the King County Ordinance, a national model law designed to enhance public safety, protect civil rights, and uphold basic constitutional principles of justice and fairness regardless of one's immigration status. She worked with and has gained the respect of elected officials and staff members of the Council and secured the cooperation and support of separately elected King County officials. In her day job as Senior Directing Attorney of the Immigration Project for the Washington Defenders Association, she has litigated cases at all levels of state and federal court to win individual justice and bring about systemic legal and policy reforms. She has taught at the University of Washington's School of Law and served on the board of numerous local, regional and national organizations, including OneAmerica, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women. She currently serves on Washington State's Minority and Justice Commission. Ann has been honored for her leadership as the recipient of the Lexus/Nexus Danial Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law, the Friend of the Judiciary Award from the Washington Women Lawyers, a Distinguished Service Award from the Washington State Bar Association, and the Golden Door Award from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Dan Rodgers

For years, Dan has been a full-time volunteer attorney providing immigration legal services at the non-profit Alaska Institute for Justice/Alaska Immigration Justice Project in Anchorage. He also has volunteered at the southern detention centers, providing assistance with credible fear interviews. Dan has handled many emotionally and legally difficult cases on a pro bono basis, and is to be commended. At the Alaska Institute for Justice, Dan was always available to provide any help he could in cases, in addition to his own full (volunteer!) caseload. Dan also mentors outside pro bono attorneys in asylum cases (including in removal proceedings). He is simply an amazing person who has positively affected the lives of so many immigrants, offering his volunteer services at the non-profit for several years.

Washington, DC

James Lance Conklin

The Washington, DC Chapter selects James "Lance" Conklin for the 2018 Chapter Pro Bono Champion award. For the past year, he has been leading the Pro Bono committee with such events as a Model Hearing event where member practitioners are trained at Baltimore Immigration court and agree to take a pro bono case. One day after serving as a volunteer site coordinator for Citizenship Day, Lance left for Texas to volunteer for one week at the Dilley family detention center. This was all on top of his work as chair of the chapter Pro Bono Committee, where he organizes the Baltimore Immigration Court Stakeholder meetings and oversees activities including the Equal Justice Works Clinic, Airport Volunteer Lawyers, detention center volunteers, Mexican Consulate initiative for "Know Your Rights" presentations, and ICE/ERO communication coordination.

Lance has been practicing Immigration Law for over 15 years. He was first admitted to practice law in California in 1995, and has worked for some of the most prestigious immigration law firms in the United States. In addition to his experience in private practice, Lance has worked in the nonprofit world supporting Immigrant Legal Services for low-income clients and teaching immigration law to new practitioners. Prior to opening his own office, Lance worked for the nonprofit organization, World Relief, as Managing Attorney. He is also a Navy Veteran and has served as a minister.

Immigration Legal Services Program (ILS) of Catholic Charities

The Immigration Legal Services Program (ILS) of Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. provides direct legal assistance and representation to low-income immigrants and their families. Program staff represent clients with family and employment-based visa petitions, self-petitions for battered spouses and children, Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) petitions, guardianship and custody orders for unaccompanied minors, applications for asylum, naturalization, Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), "T" visas (for victims of trafficking), and "U" visas (for victims of crimes). Staff also represent clients in removal proceedings before the immigration courts, and on appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals and federal courts. ILS works as part of the DMV Alliance to provide educational outreach to communities through intake clinics and information sessions.

ILS coordinates a pro bono panel of attorneys who provide immigration consultations at the Family Justice Centers (FJC) in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties for victims of abuse or crimes. The law firms of Hunton & Williams and Steptoe & Johnson assist their program in coordinating pro bono volunteers from area law firms. Their pro bono program staff then work to match individuals eligible for immigration relief with pro bono attorneys who can provide follow up legal representation.

Last year, ILS, in coordination with the DMV Alliance, spearheaded monthly immigration consultation clinics where they were able to multiply the impact of a limited number of immigration attorneys. In these clinics, non-immigration attorneys conduct the consultation and then consult with immigration attorneys concerning the client's options.


Jennifer Nissen

The Wisconsin AILA Chapter honors Jennifer L. Nissen as a Pro Bono Champion. Jenny has volunteered multiple times on special initiatives to assist immigrant women and children, including through AILA's Dilley Project. In traveling from Wisconsin to provide pro bono services in other states, Jenny has given time away from her family and her law practice to help a particularly vulnerable population of indigent immigrants. In addition, Jenny has participated in the Wisconsin AILA Chapter's joint pro bono initiative with Catholic Charities to provide direct pro bono representation in U and VAWA cases. Jenny has successfully handled several cases under this program. Recognizing the great need for pro bono legal services, Jenny shows her strong commitment when she volunteers anew after just completing a case under the Chapter's pro bono program.

Jenny regularly practices in the business immigration area. In providing pro bono service, Jenny has learned an entirely different area of immigration law and she has done so with determination and grace. For her strong commitment to pro bono service, Jenny Nissen is a 2018 Wisconsin AILA Chapter Pro Bono Champion.

Thomas C. Hochstatter

Throughout his lengthy career, Thomas C. Hochstatter has set a remarkable example for the Wisconsin AILA Chapter through his outstanding pro bono service. Tom has continued this exceptional commitment to pro bono service in 2018. The Wisconsin AILA Chapter honors Tom as a Pro Bono Champion for all he has done and continues to do to help those who cannot afford legal services. Tom has held several leadership roles in the Chapter, including Chapter Chair. In each role, he has encouraged the Chapter members to perform pro bono service. Currently, Tom serves as a Pro Bono Liaison for the Wisconsin Chapter. He manages one of the chapter's active pro bono programs, which is to staff a weekly volunteer clinic with AILA attorneys. The clinic is run by Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and covers a variety of legal issues. The Wisconsin AILA Chapter provides a volunteer attorney each week that the clinic runs, and Tom sees that the Wisconsin Chapter meets this commitment. In addition to managing the attorney schedule, Tom participates in the clinic as one of the volunteers and often takes extra rotations on the schedule to cover for vacancies. Each year, Tom routinely has the most appearances as a volunteer AILA attorney at the weekly clinic. Tom also has taken as his own pro bono cases several of the matters he has screened through the weekly clinic and found especially compelling. He has taken these cases in addition to providing pro bono representation on DACA, asylum, and other matters in his private law practice.

Tom is a resource for other attorneys in the Wisconsin Chapter who accept pro bono cases in areas of immigration law in which they usually do not practice. He is a patient, kind, and encouraging teacher, and he gives freely of his time to all AILA attorneys who ask for his help. Further, Tom is a talented and spirited advocate, and he has encouraged the Wisconsin AILA Chapter members to approach pro bono service with the same energy and devotion. He leads by example to other AILA members and the public. The Wisconsin AILA Chapter and the indigent immigrant population have truly benefited from Tom's great commitment and outstanding leadership on pro bono service. To honor Tom's extraordinary pro bono service as an attorney and as leader of this chapter, the Wisconsin AILA Chapter has selected Thomas C. Hochstatter as a 2018 Chapter Pro Bono Champion.