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2017 ABA Grassroots Award recipients lauded for ‘tireless efforts’ to expand justice

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2017 ABA Grassroots Award recipients lauded for ‘tireless efforts’ to expand justice

By John Glynn

A nonprofit organization that provides refugee youth with legal representation and a longtime Oregon lawyer received the 2017 American Bar Association Grassroots Advocacy Award April 26 at an awards presentation during ABA Day, the association’s annual effort to connect policymakers with their constituents in the legal profession.

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Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan

Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan kicked off the ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court building on Wednesday by thanking ABA members in the audience for meeting with lawmakers to urge support for legal aid and other ABA priorities.

“You are doing the Lord’s work,” Kagan told attendees of the two-day lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to ensure continued funding for legal aid. “This is so important -- the Legal Services Corporation -- so many people depend on it, and depend on there being adequate funding for it.”

Edwin Harnden

left to right: ABA President Linda Klein, Barran-Liebman Co-Managing Partner Edwin Harden, 2017 ABA Day Chair Patricia Lee Refo

One particular champion working on behalf of legal aid is Edwin Harnden, a co-managing partner at Barran Liebman in Portland, Ore., who was honored with the grassroots award, an annual award recognizing outstanding outreach efforts.

ABA President Linda Klein, who presided over the presentation, thanked Harnden for his “tireless efforts to expand legal aid funding and increase access to justice for all.”

Harnden, who has been involved with ABA Day since 2001, is a former Oregon State Bar president, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the recipient of several prestigious public service awards. In his practice, Harnden has tried more than 100 employment law cases, and is a renowned litigator and leader in the courtroom as well as in the Portland legal community.

Harnden told Klein he was deeply honored to receive the award. “I’m even more honored to be a part of this group, which every day – day in and day out – works for justice, works for those who are in need.”

Harnden said it makes him proud to be “among those who not only stand for something, but stand up for something,” as guardians of the rule of law. “I’m very cognizant of the powerful impact we can have out there in the real world” by the way we treat people, he said.

The nonprofit organization KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) also received a grassroots award.

Edwin Harnden

left to right: KIND representatives Laurie Carafone and Christie Turner, Klein, Refo

Klein said the mission of KIND, which was founded in 2008 by U.N. special envoy Angelina Jolie and Microsoft, is to ensure that unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children who enter the United States are represented by pro bono attorneys in their deportation hearings. KIND also advocates for vital services that help unaccompanied children in the United States, and increases awareness among policymakers and the public about the rights and needs of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children, using social media and creating a Children’s Speaker’s Bureau.

On hand to accept the award on behalf of KIND was Laurie Carafone, KIND’s co-director of Legal Services, and Christie Turner, the supervising attorney who oversees KIND’s Washington, D.C., and Virginia field offices.

“I’m pleased to accept the ABA Grassroots Award on behalf of KIND,” Carafone said “At KIND, we are sincerely grateful to have the support of the American Bar Association, and so many ABA member firms and individual attorneys who are here tonight.”

Carafone said that in response to the refugee crisis of recent years, KIND has tripled its staff and harnessed the power of 400 law firms to help refugee children who arrive at our borders in need of legal help.