Jacqueline Hatherill, Andrew Lipton and Eric Porter
Tell us about your pro bono experience
We successfully represented a Nigerian refugee seeking asylum in the U.S. pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1158. Our client was persecuted because of his religious beliefs and his corresponding refusal to participate in certain local traditions and rituals forced upon him by the leaders of his family's village. After managing to escape and fleeing to the U.S., he was held in a New Jersey detention center for seven months before his release in June 2018.
Why is pro bono service important to you?
Pro bono service is an important opportunity to give back to the community and to provide legal assistance to those who, despite being deserving and in need, couldn’t otherwise afford that assistance.
How did you select an organization to support? What would you want someone to know about the organization?
What value does pro bono service provide you and your clients?
For the pro bono client, the benefit is receiving legal services that the client would likely not otherwise have access to. For us, and particularly in the asylum context, the benefit was getting to work on a matter with real life and death consequences, where we could potentially make an enormous positive impact on a refugee’s life and the lives of his family members. The case also gave us the opportunity to gain trial experience that we might not otherwise easily get in our regular practice, and to learn new areas of the law that we wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to explore.
why should other lawyers get involved in pro bono service?
There is a huge unmet need for pro bono assistance across a wide variety of areas, and particularly in the immigration context. Having just gone through the asylum process, we’ve learned firsthand what a difficult system it is to navigate, even for a lawyer. The majority of those in detention or otherwise seeking asylum unfortunately go unrepresented, often face language barriers, and stand little chance of presenting the most effective case possible without outside legal assistance.
What Advice do you have for lawyers who want to get involved in pro bono service?
Get involved! People need your help, and you’ll get great experience and learn new areas of the law.