AILA's Pro Bono Newsletter

Pro Bono Newsletter, Summer 2011

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The AILA Military Assistance Program (MAP) is a collaborative effort between AILA and the Legal Assistance Offices of the United States Military Judge Advocate General Corps. JAG attorneys have been inundated with complex immigration legal questions. To resolve these cases successfully, they often need the assistance of seasoned immigration attorneys. AILA MAP is bringing these two groups together for the first time in this dynamic partnership. The program has been in existence for over three years now, and AILA attorneys have assisted in more than 400 military cases. More than 350 of your AILA colleagues have signed up! For more information or to volunteer, please contact Susan Timmons, Manager of Pro Bono Programs. AILA Atlanta Chapter Forges New Partnership With Fort Stewart Army Base By Elizabeth L.A. Garvish A s AILA members, we are deeply committed to the provision of Pro Bono Assistance in our communities. So, when officials at the Fort Stewart Army base near Hinesville, Georgia, called on AILA for help han- dling immigration issues for soldiers and their families, the AILA Atlanta Chapter Executive Committee unani- mously agreed to help. Aſter working on our local Citizenship Day events for the last five years, I decided to take on the task of mobilizing our chapter. Our first job was to decide how AILA could best assist the military with their immigration needs. According to the Chief of Legal Assistance at Fort Stewart, Cameron R. Edlefsen, the Legal Assistance Office is where soldiers and their families come for help with legal matters such as wills, divorce/custody issues and immigration. It is also the first place new JAG attorneys land upon entry into the military. These new JAG attorneys have a high-volume caseload and are charged with getting up to speed on all areas of the law, including immigration. Thus, the need for a training component was obvious. Aſter meeting with Nicholas Hurd, the JAG attorney in charge of the event, we decided to offer our Pro Bono services on three levels: We considered the training and legal education element at the base to be key; second, a mentoring program must be established so that the military legal assistance office has access to AILA mentors for help on tough issues; third, we realized that many cases would require the specialized expertise of an AILA attorney, and thus we established a pro bono list of attorneys willing to take on one or two military pro bono cases each year. Our training session, attended by JAG attorneys and legal staff from Fort Stewart, Fort Benning and other lo- cal bases, took place on the morning of May 12 with Joe Kernan from the Atlanta District USCIS office provid- ing valuable insight on government issues and naturalization. Beryl Far- ris, Dale Schwartz and Tracie Klinke spoke on family immigration issues, while Eli Echols and Luis Alemany briefed us on criminal immigration matters and removal. The rest of the day, we were joined by other AILA at- torneys, including Nadia Deans, Romy Kapoor, Jean Padberg, Dara Berger, Anne Koch, Jeffrey Williamson, and Audra Doyle, who provided pro bono legal assistance to the soldiers and their family members. Dara Berger, Jean Padberg, Beryl Farris and Audra Doyle took on time-consuming leadership roles as we planned the first of many successful events towards this ongo- ing partnership. The event ended with an awards ceremony where the AILA volunteers received certificates and challenge coins from Colonel Jona- thon C. Guden. As the coordinator of the event, I received a plaque with the base’s mascot, the Rocky Dog. I have never been so proud of our AILA Chapter members for their dedication and time spent to make this event a success. Our attorneys gained valuable knowledge and experience right along with the Legal Assistance Staff and felt the gratitude from everyone at Fort Stewart. We challenge other AILA chapters to set up an ongoing military assistance program with their local bases through training, mentoring and pro bono assistance. This “feel good” opportunity and the sneak peek into military life provided a rich and rewarding experience for all those who participated. Elizabeth L.A. Garvish is the founder and Managing Member of the Atlanta based firm of Garvish, Orza & Polutan, LLC. She is the winner of the 2008 State Bar of Georgia H. Sol Clark Pro Bono award and acts as Treasurer of the AILA Atlanta Chapter. 4

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