Winter 2006

Leadership Profile: Christopher Nugent

Christopher Nugent, Co-Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Immigrants, works tirelessly to advocate for the rights of immigrants and refugees. Chris joined the Section in 2000 because of his belief in the Section’s mission of working to protect society’s most vulnerable individuals from abuse.

Growing up in New England and traveling extensively with his parents, Chris developed an interest in geography, sociology, and anthropology at an early age. Fluent in French, Italian, and Latin, he spent his summers in Europe gaining knowledge of other peoples and cultures. Despite his international travels, it was while living with a farmworker family in Central Florida that he found his calling. As a teacher’s aid during his senior year of high school, he saw first-hand many social injustices that he felt compelled to change. Chris deferred his college enrollment for a year and worked with Central American refugees in Costa Rica.

His first experience with immigration law came while attending Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Volunteering as a summer paralegal, he helped Latin American farmworkers with their applications to gain legal status under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. He then worked as a paralegal with detained Central American asylum-seekers before going on to attend City University of New York School of Law in Flushing, Queens, where he received his J.D.

Chris currently serves as Senior Counsel and Administrator of the Community Services Team at Holland & Knight LLP, where he is responsible for administering the largest institutional program of full-time staff to pro bono legal services in the nation. He also is responsible for the development of cutting-edge projects, cases, and training; supervising and mentoring attorneys; and participating in casework and projects, particularly in the area of immigra-tion and refugee issues. In addition to his work at Holland & Knight, Chris serves on the Boards of the National Immigration Forum, Immigration Equality, and Just Neighbors.

Chris sees great opportunity for the Section and the ABA to influence the current debate over comprehensive immigration reform, to which he believes there should be a balanced approach that recognizes both the immigration and security needs of a post-9/11 society, and the moral obligation to treat hard-working, tax-paying undocumented workers fairly. Chris believes immigration reform should be true to the fundamental legal principles of the United States, founded by immigrants and refugees committed to due process and equal justice.

For more information about the work of the Committee on the Rights of Immigrants, contact 202/662-1030.

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