The Pro Bono Institute has featured our latest federal immigration court project involving Chicago Appleseed and Appleseed, along with tremendous pro bono assistance from Latham & Watkins LLP and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
An excerpt from the article:
Collaborating across firms, disciplines, and cities, a team of attorneys, advocates, and law students evaluated the federal Immigration Court system and recently released its findings in “Reimagining the Immigration Court Assembly Line: Transformative Change for the Immigration Justice System.” The report is the product of a model approach to pro bono advocacy efforts, and work to implement its reforms has already begun.
“Reimagining the Immigration Court Assembly Line” grades the U.S. Immigration Court system’s response to recommendations from the team’s 2009 “Assembly Line Injustice” report. Pro bono attorney teams from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP*† and Latham & Watkins LLP*† partnered with Appleseed’s flagship office and affiliate Chicago Appleseed on both investigations. The 2009 report detailed a number of failings in the Immigration Court process, and true to the Appleseed model, proposed realistic, achievable recommendations for reform.
Latham & Watkins Associate Matthew Cronin remarked:
The Appleseed project allowed junior attorneys at the firms to get a lot of substantive experience in court proceedings and to look at the law from a different perspective. Attorneys normally analyze the law through the lens of litigation. With Appleseed, we look at what the policy should be, rather than just the precedent and rules of evidence. It is a different type of advocacy that focuses on systemic rather than individual considerations. Given political and economic realities, we proposed feasible changes to enhance the justice, efficiency, and legitimacy of the immigration courts.
The project provided leadership opportunities for Cronin and one-of-a-kind experiences for a group of law students as well. Cronin coordinated with George Washington University Law School Dean of Public Interest and Public Service Law David Johnson to lead a short-term legal clinic specifically for this project. As part of the clinic, GW Law students conducted dozens of court observations, which provided the researchers with perspective on the current system and made a powerful contribution to the report.