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Photo: Lara Burke

Pro Bono Week Profile: Lara Burke (Bruch Hanna)

By Priya Konings

Representing unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children is challenging, and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) is always looking for pro bono lawyers with the time, patience, and enthusiasm to handle a pro bono immigration case for our clients. When Lara Burke of Bruch Hanna came to KIND, we knew that we’d found someone who could rise to the occasion.

Since taking on her first KIND matter in 2014, Lara has represented four of our clients. She has obtained state-court orders in three of her cases, and has a permanent residency (greencard) application pending for one of her cases. In the process, Lara has handled her cases with diligence and empathy, and has cleared a number of hurdles, including difficult judges and clients with changing circumstances.

Lara also learns from her clients. She explains that KIND cases “provide a window into lives and places I would not otherwise encounter.  To this day, it is hard for me to grasp how terrifying it was for an 11-year-old boy, who did not know how to swim, to get on a raft to cross the Rio Grande.  When I talked to him, he said that his main concern was for his nine-year-old sister, who was on the raft with him.  Kids like him are courageous beyond my imagination.”

To help KIND secure counsel for all unaccompanied minors in immigration court, Lara has also organized a training at her law firm, leading to more lawyers taking on KIND cases. Her pitch is simple: “Doing pro bono work is a privilege.  Each case affords her the opportunity to overcome legal challenges, develop crucial advocacy skills, and represent clients with compelling stories.”

Priya Konings is the Managing Attorney of KIND’s DC Field Office.