AILA Announces Summer 2013 AILA Pro Bono Heroes Honorees

AILA is pleased to announce the recipients of the "Pro Bono Heroes" quarterly awards. For Summer 2013, the AILA National Pro Bono Services Committee solicited nominations of individual AILA members as well as non-member attorneys covering four regions of the country. After considering all of the nominees, we are pleased to recognize the following individual AILA Pro Bono Heroes:

Northeast (CT, New England, NJ, NY, Ohio, and PA):

Jennifer Archer is a shareholder at Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman in Portland and may just be the most committed and passionate pro bono immigration attorney in the state of Maine. Jennifer has dedicated thousands of hours to pro bono work that impacts immigrants in Maine, including ten years on the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP)'s pro bono asylum panel representing dozens of clients pro bono, recruiting and mentoring new attorneys, and presenting at ILAP trainings. She is also the president of ILAP's board of directors. Jennifer is currently pro bono co-counsel with the ACLU of Maine and Maine Equal Justice Partners in Bruns v. Mayhew, a class action law suit against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, claiming that the agency committed equal protection violations in denying health care benefits to immigrants. The case is currently on appeal with the First Circuit.

Southeast (Carolinas, Florida, Georgia-Alabama, Mid-South, D.C. and Puerto Rico):

Prashant Khetan, one of our non-AILA member honorees, is a commercial litigation partner at the Washington D.C. office of Troutman Sanders, LLP. He was nominated for his generous work with the Tahirih Justice Center in Falls Church, Virginia. For more than 2 years, Prashant has represented survivors of domestic violence seeking asylum in immigration court. He has represented clients in two local immigration courts, and he has recently taken on additional research work to assist Tahirih in a third appeal of a domestic violence asylum case. As a partner at Troutman Sanders, Prashant has also used his stature to recruit other attorneys at his firm to engage in pro bono cases and to provide extraordinary legal services to other Tahirih Justice Center clients, none of whom could afford a private attorney and all of whom would suffer severe harm if removed.

Central (Canada, Chicago, Indiana, Iowa/Nebraska, Mexico City, Michigan, Minnesota/Dakotas, Missouri/Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Bangkok District & Rome District Chapters):

Chris Schlegel is an attorney with Miller and Johnson in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she practices immigration law. She was nominated for her outstanding volunteer and pro bono efforts to help young immigrants apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. After DACA was created in 2012, Chris volunteered at almost every free DACA clinic in western Michigan, including five between the end of August and early November. She also personally represented individual DACA clients who could not otherwise afford legal counsel. Because of Chris's generosity with her time, the non-profit legal providers in Michigan can always count on her to attend clinics or other pro bono events. In addition to her work with DACA applicants, Chris has worked to provide pro bono legal assistance to many other indigent immigrants in western Michigan.

West (Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Northern California, San Diego, Santa Clara, Southern California, Oregon, Utah, Washington):

Diana G. Fakhrai. Before opening her Los Angeles firm in 2010, Diana Fakhrai devoted untold hours to Catholic Charities' Esperanza Immigrants Rights Project. While serving Esperanza, Diana commuted long hours from Los Angeles to the now closed Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster, California. At Mira Loma, she assisted detained asylum seekers, lawful resident crime victims and others. She always ensured that immigrant detainees understood their rights. Diana gave not only her time; she often gave her own money to detainees' accounts to pay for documents critical to their defense. When Diana opened her own practice, she continued her pro bono service in many ways. She organized the HELP Legal Aid Program in Los Angeles, providing immigration counseling and assistance to the homeless. She has also contributed innumerable hours to AILA's New Member Division, AILA's Pro Bono Committee, and served as an EOIR liaison during her years as an AILA member. A hallmark of Diana's private practice is her generosity to all of her clients. She represents many pro bono clients before the EOIR and USCIS and remains a forceful advocate for immigrants' rights.

We applaud all of those who were nominated for their exemplary pro bono efforts, and especially congratulate our honorees for the Summer of 2013 Pro Bono Heroes!

Through the Pro Bono Heroes awards AILA recognizes individuals and organizations from across the country that embody the pro bono spirit, through promoting and contributing to pro bono work, taking on complex pro bono cases or handling a significant number of pro bono cases or pro bono hours.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13100104.