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.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Washington, DC
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has provided excellent legal representation to asylum seekers through the pro bono representation program at Human Rights First. The firm took on a particularly challenging case of a refugee who was unfairly subjected to the sweeping “material support” bar to asylum, marshaling resources at all levels to advocate successfully on his behalf. The firm has also supported Human Rights First by providing legal advice and hosting seminars on asylum law and working with victims of torture.
Lowenstein Sandler PC, New York
Lowenstein Sandler PC has played a key role in Human Rights First’s efforts to build a pro bono representation network for asylum seekers in New Jersey and in particular for those detained at the Elizabeth Detention Center—some of the most vulnerable of our clients. The firm’s lawyers have also volunteered to take on federal appeals as well as the cases of children seeking asylum in the United States. Their top-quality work with Human Rights First reflects a deep commitment to pro bono work throughout the firm.