X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Latham & Watkins’ pro bono works haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2001, the firm received acclaim from nonprofit organizations and awards for its work from bar groups in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. With about 90,000 pro bono hours, or 81 per lawyer, the firm has made an impressive commitment and conducts a diverse group of projects. Among them: � In the Los Angeles home office, attorneys have done real estate and employment work for A Place Called Home, a youth program servicing more than 3,000 youngsters in South Central Los Angeles. � Lawyers in Washington, D.C., have provided advice at a legal clinic for the homeless. � In San Francisco, Latham lawyers worked on a community housing program for nonimmigrant farm workers. � In New Jersey, they’ve worked with the state Senate on an investigation into racial profiling. � Lawyers in California and New York have helped victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The firm has undertaken one particularly noteworthy “signature project” that accounts for its appearance here. This was its work with unaccompanied foreign minors detained by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). About 4,700 unaccompanied minors are in custody nationally under federal immigration law. At least 80 percent don’t have representation when they face INS lawyers seeking to deport them. ABA PRAISE “Latham & Watkins has made an invaluable contribution to protecting some of the most vulnerable children in America,” says American Bar Association President Bob Hirshon. “The firm has shown unique leadership in advancing protections for these children and their work has resulted in precedent-setting victories for children’s immigration cases.” Latham does pro bono work on behalf of the children on several fronts. Lawyers have represented individual children, and the firm has monitored the enforcement of regulations that relate to minors being held by the government. It has also lobbied for changes in the laws governing their treatment. Steven Schulman, the firm’s pro bono counsel, says that lawyers at the firm have always worked pro bono on immigration matters, but the decision to make the unaccompanied minors a signature project came in March 2001. That is when he attended the Pro Bono Institute’s annual seminar. At a luncheon there, he met with Chris Nugent, a staff attorney with the ABA’s Immigration Pro Bono Project, who described the multiple needs for pro bono lawyers. It sounded like a perfect fit. “I wanted a global project,” recalls Schulman. “I knew there were people in virtually every Latham office who know asylum work and have worked with refugees.” In each of six Latham offices — in San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York — Schulman found a coordinator to help facilitate work on the issue. Last year, about 50 attorneys from across the firm were involved in representing about two dozen minors. Schulman credits the Los Angeles office with taking the lead in direct representation. Attorneys there have taken on about 10 cases. One of the firm’s first victories came in August, when a Los Angeles associate, Tamar Feder, won asylum for a 16-year-old Honduran boy. It was the first affirmative relief that lawyers had won under the new coordinated program. More recently, Abid Qureshi and Jeremy Lustman, who are Washington, D.C., associates, won an asylum case on behalf of a 15-year-old boy who was smuggled into this country from India. Queshi, who is Pakistani-American, spoke Punjabi, the same language as the boy and helped to document the boy’s physical abuse at the hands of his mother. The coordinators in the various offices not only helped with representation of the children, but they also organized groups to oversee the enforcement of the Flores Agreement, a 1997 court settlement that provides guidelines for how children are to be treated while detained. Flores v. Reno, 507 U.S. 292. Drawing on Flores, the INS’ recently created detention standards for adults and the American Correctional Association Standards for prisoners, the firm put together an 82-page checklist to monitor juvenile jails and shelters where children are detained. The list contains questions for staff about their facilities and services and questions for children about their background and experiences in custody. The firm has carried out six or seven of these site visits, with teams of five attorneys, and plans to do them again next year. The firm is also working on organizing a network so that other firms and advocates can monitor detention sites near their offices. In pressing for systematic reform, Schulman, along with Washington, D.C., associate Andrew Morton, helped to negotiate a stipulation to the agreement that would ensure that Flores, which was set to expire in February, is extended long enough for regulations to be formulated. If the agreement were to expire, there would be no enforceable rules that would govern the INS’ treatment of children. A third critical level of involvement has been Latham’s legislative work. Washington, D.C., associate Morton spent more than 1,150 hours last year working with the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children on pro bono legislative efforts to improve the plight of children. Morton’s lobbying skills helped get the support of key members of Congress for the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act. S. 121/H.R. 1904. That bill would overhaul the treatment of children in immigration proceedings. The bill was scheduled for hearings in October but was delayed as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. The proposed legislation enjoys bipartisan support in both houses and is widely expected to pass after hearings anticipated in January 2002. “Andrew’s pro bono work has improved the lives of countless disadvantaged children,” says Wendy Young, director of government relations for the Women’s Commission. FIRM SUPPORT Impressive as the firm’s work on behalf of children is, it still only accounts for about 6,000 of the 90,000 hours the firm spent last year on pro bono. More than half of the firm’s attorneys logged time for pro bono in 2001 on a myriad of smaller projects. Latham’s numbers represent a sharp increase from years past and are part of a deliberate strategy on the firm’s part. Peter Gilhuly, the firm’s pro bono committee chairman, says that it began to ramp up its pro bono work in 1998, when it signed on to the Pro Bono Challenge. That effort, a program of the Pro Bono Institute and the American Bar Association, is built around a pledge that a firm spend 3 percent of billable hours on pro bono work. In order to reach it, pro bono hours at Latham are counted hour for hour as are all client hours and are considered in giving bonuses. Last year the firm appointed Schulman as pro bono counsel half-time. Gilhuly says the firm needed someone to attend to the daily administrative demands of the firm’s pro bono work. Gilhuly credits the firm’s improved pro bono to the fact that it became a management issue. “The managers said ‘Let’s do this and do it right.’ So we did,” says Gilhuly.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.