Pro Bono Newsletter
Pro Bono Is a Part of Professionalism n AILA Practice and Professionalism Center
By Stacy Cozart
American Immigration Lawyers Association www.aila.org
Winter 2011 I aila
SAN DIEGO June 15–18, 2011
n the last edition of the Pro Bono Newsletter, “Making the Case for Pro Bono,” by
Cyrus Mehta, calls us to consider the reasons why AILA lawyers should make pro bono part of their practice. Te reasoning makes sense, but what are the obstacles to effective pro bono implementation?
SAN DIEGO BOASTS 365 DAYS OF “AHHH ...” Come to AILA’s 2011 Annual Conference for four days of “ahh-some” June 15-18 in sunny San Diego! Registration opens Feb. 3.
I collected input from colleagues in my chapter, the great state of Ohio, and identified several main issues: lack of remedies available, travel time to interview detained foreign nationals, and the shortage of time practitioners can afford to contribute to non-income gener- ating cases during these difficult economic times. How can practi- tioners overcome these obstacles?
VOLUNTEER FOR AILA CITIZENSHIP DAY! On April 30, AILA will sponsor Citizenship Day 2011, a single-day workshop with sites around the country providing assistance to lawful perma- nent residents eligible for naturalization. For information on your chapter’s event, contact your local Citizenship Day coordinator, or contact Susan Timmons, Manager of Pro Bono Programs at AILA.
Making Pro Bono a Reality for Practice
Overcoming Obstacles to Pro Bono Implementation
First, set up brief advice clinics in concert with a local non-profit organization or church where attorneys can triage and weed out cases where there may be no readily available remedy. A good rule of thumb is to house these clinics within immigrant neigh- borhoods. Meet them on their turf. Tis way they feel comfort- able attending the event.
Second, address the travel is- sue for detained individuals by speaking to your Pro Bono Liaison Judge and request the use of the EOIR video conference equipment on a Friday aſter- noon. Most Friday aſternoons are a quiet time for the court to catch up on the week’s schedule.
Te third, and, perhaps the most difficult challenge, is the balanc- ing act of maintaining a viable practice while participating in pro bono activities. One should make
sure first to screen all applicants for income eligibility, thereby preserving your limited time for cases where the actual inability to pay is established. If it is too burdensome to accept a solo as- signment, consider participating in a clinic where only advice is provided, not representation. In addition, if a case is too compli- cated, collaboration with a mentor will allow for the advancement of both education and experience.
Overcoming the obstacles of pro bono not only allows us to serve a community that is in dire need of legal assistance, but it also reminds us of why we became lawyers in the first place.
Stacy Cozart is a Partner in the law firm of Sharon & Kalnoki LLC and is Pro Bono Liaison and Trea- surer for the Ohio AILA Chapter. She also serves on AILA’s National Pro Bono Services Committee.
u ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS: Improving Access to Representation 2 Fighting for Justice on the Border 4 www.aila.org 1