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.
DLA Piper LLP (New York)
With the oversight of pro bono coordinators Richard Gruenberger and Joshua Sohn, as well as partner Gail Rodgers, the New York office of DLA Piper LLP has become one of the most active pro bono partners within Human Rights First’s pro bono network. In the past seven years, the firm has taken on challenging cases at varying procedural levels; several of these cases have involved administrative appeals, and one involved a client in immigration detention. We are grateful for the firm’s impressive commitment to our program which has made it possible for many asylum-seekers begin new lives and eventually reunite with their families in the United States.
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP (Washington, D.C. and New York)
Under the stewardship of partner Brian Weimar, the Washington, D.C. office of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP has been a very active partner in our pro bono representation program for the past several years, while the firm’s New York office and New York-based pro bono coordinator Daniel Brown have been working with us since 2010 to build and expand their asylum program in New York. The firm has been receptive to all case offers and has made the staffing of new asylum cases, and the training of its attorneys on matters relating to asylum, a priority within their pro bono program. We are grateful for the firm’s excellent work on behalf of all these asylum-seekers.