December 2009 • Vol. 29 No. 11 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

Make a Difference: Volunteer Immigration Attorneys Needed for Immigration Court Pro Bono Representation Panel

Training scheduled for January 27.

Many clients in the immigration court are often misrepresented by “notaries” and legal consultants—prevalent in almost all the ethnic communities—who often deprive persons of their legal rights and benefits under the immigration law.

Over the past 10 years, volunteer attorneys of the Pro Bono Representation Panel have provided legitimate assistance to clients appearing in immigration court and have helped more than 3,000 persons remain in the United States with their families.

Volunteer immigration attorneys can make a difference by providing their services for this worthwhile pro bono panel.

Recently, a pro bono attorney helped a man from El Salvador who was placed in immigration court proceedings because he had been told by a “notario” that it would be easier for him to get a green card before the immigration judge. Besides giving bad legal advice and practicing law without a license, the notario did not know that this person was eligible for special relief known as NACARA. The volunteer attorney, working with the immigration court, helped the man remain in the United States by filing the correct paperwork so he could obtain his lawful residency status (green card). This is just one example of the type of cases you will see and the people you will help as a pro bono attorney.

The Pro Bono Representation Panel operates on Wednesdays and Fridays. Volunteer attorneys show up at designated courtrooms for master calendar hearings only and are then matched with participating respondents. A special room has been set aside on the 14th floor of the immigration court so that volunteer attorneys and respondents can speak confidentially. Once respondents receive counsel and advice, they proceed with the attorney back to the immigration judge to plead their case.

Each participating attorney will be asked to do one master calendar hearing per month or whatever your personal schedule will allow. The panel coordinator will try to be as flexible as possible.

If you would like to participate, please come to a training on January 27, 2010. Remember, pro bono representation is only for the first master calendar appearance. Immigration court experience is preferred but not necessary. For further information, please read about the training here. 

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