Each year, Human Rights First honors the memory of Judge Marvin E. Frankel, a founding father of Human Rights First and former Chairman of our Board of Directors with an award in his name. Judge Frankel died in 2002. During his lifetime he dedicated time and energy to making a difference in the human rights movement.
Judge Frankel understood the critical difference that probono representation can make. He promoted this kind of public service at his law firm, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, and through his human rights work. Under his leadership Human Rights First developed a nationally recognized pro bono program through which lawyers in New York and Washington now represent more than 1,000 refugees from more than 80 countries in their asylum proceedings.
Each year attorneys donate over 60,000 hours of their time — a donation the equivalent of over $18 million in legal fees — to helping asylum clients. Pro bono attorneys also provide invaluable support to Human Rights First in other ways, including preparing amicus curiae briefs in cases involving important issues of international human rights law.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, New York and Washington, DC
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has represented over 100 refugees and their families in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, DC through Human Rights First’s pro bono asylum legal representation program. The firm, which has been working with Human Rights First for over fifteen years, has helped secure protection for refugees who have fled persecution and torture in places like Colombia, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Iran, China, and Sierra Leone. The firm has also worked with asylum seekers detained at immigration jails in New York and New Jersey. Skadden has never hesitated to take on complex asylum cases, including cases that have required appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the federal circuit courts. The firm also contributes to the growth of our program by hosting our spring Asylum Law Training at their offices in New York each year. Steven Kolleeny, Special Counsel, has played a leading role in overseeing the firm’s pro bono asylum representation work in New York and New Jersey. Donald Salzman, Pro Bono Counsel at the firm, has provided critical support to attorneys handling asylum cases in Washington, DC.