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WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 24, 2012 — Unaccompanied immigrant children are left to fend for themselves during removal proceedings because legal counsel is not guaranteed for them in immigration court. This is why the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division has partnered with Kids in Need of Defense, or KIND, to recruit and train volunteer lawyers to assist unaccompanied children ranging in age from as young as 3 up to 19.
KIND has created a pro bono movement of law firms and other organizations that strive to ensure that no child appears in immigration court without representation. To volunteer for a case with KIND, clickhere. For more information about KIND, visit http://www.supportkind.org.
Lawyers willing to provide pro bono services for a child or thinking about expanding their practice into the area of immigration can access free training tools offered by the ABA and KIND, found here. Training resources include a two-part video led by experienced immigration lawyers, a PowerPoint presentation, a training book and six free podcasts covering issues from asylum to voluntary departure.
The website is “open access, and we invite any lawyer, regardless of where or how they work, who is interested in learning about the project,” says Kathleen Hopkins, co-chair of the Pro Bono and Public Service Committee for the GP Solo Division.
The division will also hold a free CLE-accredited training session for potential volunteers from 8-10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Westin Seattle. Advance registration is required.
KIND will handle assignments and mentoring, Hopkins says. “If there is no KIND project near the volunteer’s office, we are developing a process to identify local immigration pro bono projects and refer volunteers to such local projects,” she says.
Hopkins added that the project is reaching out beyond the GP Solo Division to partner with other ABA entities to recruit and train volunteers in conjunction with their meetings.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.