AILA's Pro Bono Newsletter

Pro Bono Newsletter, Summer 2013

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CHAPTER HAPPENINGS: WASHINGTON, D.C. D.C. Chapter Offers Pro Bono Pledge Incentives by Dree Collopy A CITIZENSHIP DAY: The AILA-DC Chapter partnered with local community-based organizations to hold Citizenship Day workshops at locations throughout Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Because the DC Chapter covers a wide geographic region and encompasses a diverse population, eight workshops were held on April 20 and April 27, 2013 in locations ranging from Baltimore, Maryland to Richmond, Virginia. The AILA-DC Chapter again worked with long-time partners Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, and CASA de Maryland to host the Citizenship Day workshops. This year the DC Chapter also reached out to some new groups, including the Ethiopian Community Center and Jesus House, a church with a mostly Nigerian congregation. In an effort to reach a broad spectrum of the immigrant population, flyers were translated into Amharic, French, and Korean, in addition to English and Spanish. Ms. Gloria Williams-Brevard, public engagement officer for the USCIS Washington District Office, noted how appreciative a number of community groups were when they found Citizenship Day information printed in their native languages. This year AILA-DC partner Catholic Charities Esperanza Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary. So in addition to the legal clinic, Citizenship Day in Baltimore included a community fair with displays and performances by various immigrant groups. AILA-DC community partner FIRN also extended its celebration of the naturalization process by hosting, in partnership with USCIS, a special naturalization ceremony the month following Citizenship Day. Overall, AILA-DC volunteers helped over 150 applicants with their applications for naturalization during Citizenship Day 2013. ILA members have a long history of providing generous and committed pro bono service to indigent clients and underserved communities, whether through direct legal representation, policy advocacy, monetary contributions, or service on boards and committees that endeavor to support the pro bono community. Yet, given our broken immigration system and the pervasive problem of unauthorized practice of law, the need for pro bono assistance continues to grow. In an effort to inspire, support, and recognize the pro bono service of its members, AILA's Practice & Professionalism Center has asked members to publicly commit to pro bono service by taking the AILA Member Pro Bono Pledge. The Pledge is a promise by AILA members to their community to contribute a minimum number of pro bono hours during the calendar year. Any member who reports their completion of the Pledge prior to December 31st in that calendar year will receive special acknowledgment according to the category of recognition they have achieved: those who pledged and completed 50 hours will be recognized as Pro Bono Guardians, 100 hours—Pro Bono Benefactors, 150+ hours—Pro Bono Champions, or 150+ direct service hours for nonprofit legal service providers— Pro Bono VIPs. By taking the Pledge, AILA members inspire and support one another and receive well-deserved Take the Pro Bono Pledge! acknowledgement of their pro bono service. Still, many AILA members who complete numerous pro bono hours every year remain unaware of the Pledge. In an effort to raise awareness and incentivize members to take the Pledge, the AILA DC Chapter surprised three of its members in February by awarding them with $500 scholarships toward the registration fee for AILA's Annual Conference in San Francisco this June. The three scholarship recipients were randomly chosen from among those AILA DC Chapter members who signed up for and satisfied the requirements of the 2012 AILA Pro Bono Pledge. In recognition and appreciation of its members, the DC Chapter also publicized in its Chapter Newsletter a full list of chapter members who participated in and completed the 2012 Pledge. The DC Chapter plans to award more prizes next year to those participating in the AILA Member 2013 Pro Bono Pledge. AILA encourages other chapters to follow the DC Chapter's example to raise awareness and incentivize members to take the Pro Bono Pledge. Dree Collopy is the Pro Bono Liaison for AILA's DC Chapter and Chair of the AILA National Refugee and Asylum Liaison Committee. 4

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