December 2010/January 2011 Volunteer Feature: Vanessa Bressler, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
The City Bar Justice Center is pleased to recognize Vanessa Bressler, an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, for her outstanding work as a pro bono attorney with the Refugee Assistance Project. In the Project, pro bono attorneys are trained and then paired with individuals seeking asylum. City Bar Justice Center staff attorneys provide supervision during the course of the representation. Vanessa has been volunteering with the Project since 2004. Through the Project, she has successfully represented six asylum seekers from various countries, including Colombia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and the Ivory Coast, with claims ranging from female genital mutilation to persecution based on religious beliefs or political activities. She has prevailed in cases both at the asylum office and in immigration court.
Importantly, Vanessa's commitment to her clients has not ended with the grant of asylum; she also has been instrumental in helping her clients to reunite with their spouses and children through relative petitions, as well as to obtain legal permanent residence status once eligible. As a result of her ongoing dedication and work, Vanessa's clients no longer live in fear of being deported and instead, are able to finally†focus on establishing themselves and beginning new lives here in the United States.
In addition to her outstanding advocacy on behalf of her pro bono clients, Vanessa is also an invaluable resource on asylum matters to countless other attorneys at Simpson Thacher. She†has worked closely with City Bar staff to expand the firm's asylum practice, frequently assisting in placing matters with other Simpson Thacher attorneys and serving as an in-house mentor, particularly to attorneys handing their first asylum representations. Largely as a result of Vanessa's hard work, Simpson Thacher is now one of the Project's most active law firm partners.