For Immediate Release: September 16, 2011
New York, NY—Human Rights First is pleased to announce that Gina Del Chiaro has joined its New York team to fill its newly created Leon Levy Fellowship. This two-year fellowship was made possible by a grant from the Leon Levy Foundation and was created to increase high quality pro bono representation of indigent asylum-seekers and other immigrants in New York.
The Study Group on Immigrant Representation, led by The Honorable Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, originally proposed this fellowship and a related pilot project. Both aim to provide adequate counsel for immigrants by challenging the private bar to take on more pro bono asylum cases by creating greater capacity to screen potential clients, conduct intake interviews, place new pro bono cases with law firms, and mentor the pro bono attorneys in that representation.
“Human Rights First is grateful for Judge Katzmann’s leadership on this important issue. We also thank the Federal Bar Council’s Public Service Committee for its commitment to provide legal support for the pilot project,” said Human Rights First’s Lori Adams.
The Federal Bar Council’s Public Service Committee is making available a select group of law firm associates to assist with the screening of potential asylum clients at the New York Immigration Court. These associates’ law firms will then take asylum cases for pro bono legal representation.
Gina Del Chiaro is an experienced lawyer who comes to Human Rights First from the New York office of Sidley Austin LLP. While at the firm, she successfully represented a number of indigent asylum-seekers and mentored junior associates on other pro bono cases, demonstrating her commitment to high quality pro bono legal representation of immigrants. She is fluent in French which will be helpful in the fellowship, which requires frequent meetings with potential asylum clients, and she has a background in marketing. According to the organization, her background and interests make her especially well-suited for addressing the central challenge of this fellowship, which is to increase pro bono representation of asylum-seekers by law firms in the New York area.
“We look forward to working with Gina Del Chiaro, in partnership with the Study Group and the law firm associates to increase pro bono representation in this area over the next two years,” Ms. Adams said. “Through the fellowship and the pilot project, we will be able to identify a greater number of indigent asylum seekers who are in need of legal representation and whose cases are before the New York Immigration Court. The fellowship will also increase the capacity of Human Rights First to provide support and training to pro bono attorneys who take on these cases, allowing us to increase the number of individuals served.”
To learn more about Human Right’s First’s Asylum Legal Representation Program, click here.