International law firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP is pleased to announce that the Firm has received a 2020 Beacon of Justice Award from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA).
This year’s Beacon of Justice Award honors law firms with pro bono programs serving vulnerable people fleeing to the U.S. border, including helping pro se individuals better represent themselves, as well as providing direct legal representation for individuals and families in family separation, detention and immigration proceedings.
Dorsey was recognized for its pro bono work at the South Texas Family Residential Facility in Dilley, Texas. Partner JoLynn Markison and Of Counsel Erin Bryan led a team of nine attorneys and interpreters from offices in several states to volunteer for a week at the South Texas Family Residential Facility. The project was a natural extension of the Firm’s long commitment to pro bono immigration work, ranging from individual asylum applications and detention defense to policy advocacy and federal litigation.
The facility is located 75 miles from the south Texas border, and houses up to 2,400 children and mothers seeking asylum in the United States from countries in Central America. The Dilley Pro Bono Project provides volunteer lawyers as a lifeline for women and children. The volunteers assist in preparing the women and children for their credible fear interviews with asylum officers and are sometimes allowed to attend the interviews with them. The women fleeing must show that their fear of persecution falls into one of the U.S. Government’s strict five areas of protection based on race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or a specific social group. The volunteers help the women understand the asylum process and talk through with these women the horrible violence and situations from which the women are fleeing. The Dorsey team was 40% of the volunteers there that week, with each attorney advising three clients per day. The days were long, as each interview lasted several hours.
“We are honored by this recognition and I am proud of the work our Dilley Pro Bono Team provided to the women and children seeking a better life in the U.S.,” said Bill Stoeri, Managing Partner of Dorsey & Whitney. “The project was a natural extension of the Firm’s long commitment to pro bono immigration work, ranging from individual asylum applications and detention defense to policy advocacy and federal litigation. We look forward to continuing this important work.”
Since becoming a charter signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge in 1993, Dorsey has met the Challenge each year and contributed at least three percent of billable hours to pro bono work. In 2019, Dorsey’s U.S. offices logged more than 34,000 challenge pro bono hours.
Dorsey will be honored at the 2020 Exemplar Awards Dinner, Scaling Justice: Celebrating Creative Solutions, planned for September 16, in Washington DC.