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McDermott Will & Emery Aids Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence

Sunday, November 19, 2006

  • Organization: City Bar Justice Center

For the last two years McDermott Will & Emery (MWE) attorneys have taken on VAWA petition cases through the City Bar Justice Center's Immigrant Women and Children Project (IWC). The IWC is one of the leading providers of immigration services to victims of domestic violence in New York. With the assistance of volunteer attorneys from the private bar, IWC helps immigrant victims of domestic violence seek freedom from their abusers and attain legal status in the United States. Volunteers from MWE have assisted several immigrant women and children in this process, which includes the filing of Self Petitions, Employment Authorization applications, and Adjustment of Status Applications, among others. "In addition to Immigration, IWC clients have many legal issues including ongoing family and criminal court cases and public assistance issues. MWE attorneys have proven themselves to be their client's best advocates in their Immigration cases in addition to these other problems their client are facing," said Suzanne Tomatore, Director of the Immigrant Women and Children Project.

PhotoVolunteers from MWE have included Nisha Antony, Susan Stevens, Laura Kidd, Danielle Schweiloch and Trecia Pessoa. Currently, three MWE attorneys are representing IWC clients. Susan Stevens has represented several IWC clients and is currently representing a client who entered the United States at age three. A mutual friend introduced the client to her spouse. The client's spouse became extremely emotionally, physically, and economically abusive throughout their relationship and police intervened on several occasions. The client obtained an Order of Protection and the spouse was arrested for endangering their two-month-old child. With Ms. Stevens's dedicated help this client now has sole custody of their child and will be attending a green card interview this week. Ms. Stevens has helped make a life changing difference in this client and other clients' lives.

Pro bono work has obviously been rewarding to the volunteer as well. As Ms. Stevens states, "The City Bar Justice Center and other pro bono organizations work tirelessly to match up immigrant applicants with attorneys who are looking to help those who can't help themselves. These organizations should be commended for the change they effect in peoples lives everyday. I have had the pleasure of representing and befriending individuals from Morocco, Jamaica and Colombia. Without exception, these individuals are honorable, kind and hard working. It is truly my pleasure to have had the opportunity to represent such outstanding individuals."

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