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Graphic: Human Rights & Immigration panel event

2020 Summer Forum Preview: Opportunities for Individual Representation and Systemic Advocacy Abound in Human Rights & Immigration Law

At our 2020 Summer Forum, the popular Human Rights & Immigration panel will discuss how advocates are fighting to protect immigrants’ basic human rights under extraordinarily difficult circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This panel continues to be a superb opportunity for law students, recent graduates, and new lawyers to learn how to advocate for immigrants across diverse practice areas.

This panel’s moderator will be Karen Grisez, Public Service Counsel at Fried Frank.  Karen manages the intake and placement of the firm’s pro bono matters, acts as liaison to national and local bar associations and legal services providers, and provides substantive advice and assistance to other attorneys who are working on pro bono cases.  She has experience with issues of political asylum and other immigration matters, veterans’ benefits, family law, landlord/tenant law, and general civil litigation.  She sits on numerous boards and committees of local and national organizations promoting public interest law and immigration law, and she is a frequent speaker and panelist on asylum and other immigration-related topics.

Our panelists are:

Michael Lukens

Now a veteran of this panel, at which he appears annually, Michael is Associate Director of CAIR Coalition, a local organization seeking justice for detained immigrants and those facing detention and removal.  CAIR Coalition works with individual adult and juvenile clients, and coordinates the Immigration Impact Lab, litigating appeals that will affect many immigrant families.  Michael oversees all aspects of CAIR’s operations and mentors private lawyers handling pro bono cases, in addition to himself directly representing children facing removal.

Azadeh Erfani

Azadeh is the Senior Policy Analyst at the National Immigrant Justice Center.  Before joining NIJC, Azadeh was the Youth Rights Attorney at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.  In that position, she used litigation and advocacy to challenge the multifaceted ways immigrants’ rights are undermined on a daily basis, with a focus on youth rights in education and in interactions with the criminal legal system.  She worked on multiple cases defending immigrant parents’ rights to be involved in their children’s education.

Sarah Besnoff

Sarah is an Associate in the Employment Law Department of Paul Hastings.  Her practice focuses on wage and hour and employment discrimination litigation, and employment counseling.  She is also a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Fels Institute of Government.  Sarah is active in pro bono work, having made High Honors on the 2017 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll.

Jessalyn Schwartz

Jessalyn is a Staff Attorney at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a national organization advocating for the rights of unaccompanied and refugee children in the U.S. Jessalyn also has written Practice Point pieces on child welfare and education for the American Bar Association’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee.  Before joining KIND, Jessalyn worked in Boston as a court-appointed attorney for children and parents involved in child protection proceedings, students facing school offender and truancy petitions, and adults in mental health guardianship and commitment cases.

Lucia Curiel

Lucia Curiel is currently an immigration attorney at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender (OPD). At OPD, Lucia advises public defenders and clients of the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Prior to working at OPD, Lucia worked at CAIR Coalition, where she represented randomly selected clients in removal proceedings before the immigration court. Lucia is barred in Maryland.

We are excited to hear from all our panelists at the Summer Forum, and we hope that you’ll join us from wherever you are for this virtual event.  The Forum also features keynote remarks from D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby in conversation with Jim Sandman, President Emeritus of the Legal Services Corporation, as well as access to four other panels on hot topics in public-interest and pro bono law.

And then join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn using #SumFo20!

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