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Bob Redmond didn’t need a translator to realize the burgeoning Spanish speaking community in Richmond, Va., was in desperate need of lawyers. “I just saw that over the past 10 years or so we have more and more Hispanic immigrants and I wondered, is anybody helping out these folks?” said Redmond, a partner in the litigation section at 350-lawyer Williams Mullen. Over the last 10 years Redmond has built a team of lawyers and paralegals to coordinate national mass tort and product liability defenses that include silica, and latex glove litigation. He was struck by the thought that the team and their system could easily be adapted as a pro bono clinic. “We thought if we can handle a large volume of litigation around the country related to toxic torts, we could do that locally for nuts-and-bolts consumer law issues,” Redmond said. “We have data bases and lawyers and paralegals adept at handling multiple files at the same time. I got to thinking if we had a high volume of pro bono clients, we could plug the team in there and start a clinic.” Redmond approached the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with an offer of help from the Williams Mullen team. It was quickly accepted. The clinic, with five attorneys and five paralegals � and bilingual volunteers to translate � opened in March 2004. “It’s a wonderful program,” said Michel Zajur, CEO of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This legal clinic has helped so many people who have been taken advantage because they don’t speak English very well.” 1,200 served The third Monday evening of each month Redmond’s team sets up shop at the chamber offices, typically seeing 30 or more people. The most common issues are immigration petitions and collecting unpaid wages. The clinic has served about 1,200 clients since opening and collected more that $250,000 in unpaid wages, Redmond said. “Contrary to the popular belief, a lot of [Hispanic] people in this country do have legal status or, at least, grounds for legal status,” Redmond said. “We’ve helped a lot of people get legal status and we’ve made it possible for a lot of other people to leave the country voluntarily with the option to return without a stain on their records.” Students at the University of Richmond School of Law have recently begun assisting at the pro bono clinic with applications for “U visas” for immigrant’s cooperating as testifying witnesses in criminal prosecutions and visas for domestic violence victims available under the Violence Against Women Act, said Tara L. Casey, director of the school’s Pro Bono Services Program. “A large part of the work is gathering information,” she said. “We saw a chance for law students to learn more about immigration law and develop the skills that come with direct client interaction.” Letterhead’s power Ryan Furgurson, an associate at Williams Mullen who has worked at the clinic since he joined the firm nearly three years ago, said employers frequently pay wages as soon as they receive a phone call or see the firm’s letterhead. “Half the time the [employer] says he’ll pay later, the other half of the time the check bounces. They figure the guy is illegal and what can he do about it?” Furgurson said. “It just takes them knowing that they are not dealing with an individual who has no recourse. We win because people are not coming in with bogus cases.” Williams Mullen has long supported Central Virginia Legal Aid and has been active in the “Wills for Heroes” and “Wills on Wheels” programs for veterans and seniors. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce clinic, which in January received the John C. Kenny Pro Bono Award from the Richmond Bar Association, is unique because it was wholly developed in the firm, Redmond said. “I didn’t have any great ambitions for it but we’ve had a tremendous amount of success,” he said.

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