Over the past three years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been caught trying to enter the United States illegally. In many instances, those apprehended are sent back to the country they fled. This year, Los Angeles–based Nixon Peabody associate Kelly Kress helped one such child win asylum.

In the spring of 2009, Kress — who works in Nixon’s white-collar defense and government investigations group — took on a pro bono case representing an undocumented teenage immigrant from El Salvador. (The firm frequently takes such cases and is currently representing 28 so-called unacccompanied alien children facing the prospect of deportation.)