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October 26, 2016

Pro Bono Stars: Los Angeles Edition

As part of the American Bar Association’s “Celebrate Pro Bono Week,” we are recognizing individuals with outstanding dedication to pro bono service as Pro Bono Stars. Today we highlight Emily Murray, Andrea Reynoso, Peter Griffin, and George Lopez from Allen Matkins. Guest post graciously provided by Allen Matkins.

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(from left to right): George Lopez; Peter Griffin; Jenna Gilbert, Human Rights First; Andrea Reynoso; Emily Murray.

Ms. R is a citizen of El Salvador who fled her country with her five-year-old son after gang members threatened her because of her political activism. Ms. R was working as a political activist when she was threatened by a prominent gang member, Mr. C, who had ties to a rival political party.

After confronting Ms. R at a polling place, Mr. C began regularly threatening Ms. R, telling her that he was going to kill both her and her son. One night when Ms. R was walking home from work, Mr. C attacked her and severely beat her. Ms. R managed to escape, and fled El Salvador soon thereafter.

Human Rights First reached out to Allen Matkins in fall 2015 about Ms. R's asylum case, and we were excited to take it on. Allen Matkins associates Andrea Reynoso and Peter Griffin, paralegal George Lopez, and supervising partner Emily Murray are handling the matter.

Over the course of the past year, we have represented Ms. R and her son in judicial asylum proceedings, including preparing and filing with the court a brief on the merits with supporting expert and lay witness affidavits and corroborating evidence. A hearing on the merits is scheduled for April 2017.

This case has been a very positive experience for the Allen Matkins team. Our associates have had an opportunity to take a lead role in interviewing witnesses, preparing motion papers, negotiating with opposing counsel, and appearing in court. It is also rewarding to be able to provide assistance and support to Ms. R and her son, and to help them navigate a process that can otherwise seem overwhelming and intimidating to our clients.

At Allen Matkins, we take our responsibility to the community and our commitment to pro bono seriously. Allen Matkins attorneys and staff across all of our offices work on pro bono matters in various areas of public interest law. We are proud not only of the excellent legal work we do for our pro bono clients, but also of our relationships with our clients and with our partner agencies, like Human Rights First. Human Rights First provides support to those most in need, and we are privileged to work alongside them.

We are honored the Allen Matkins team handling Ms. R's case has been selected by Human Rights First to be recognized with their Pro Bono Star award. We look forward to continuing to grow our pro bono program at Allen Matkins and our relationship with Human Rights First.