Understanding Pro Bono Immigration Work


Pro bono work can be challenging, especially when dealing with immigration cases. Often encompassing multiple areas of law such as family and criminal law, pro bono immigration cases can require a lot of time and effort. On Tuesday, October 18th, the BBA hosted a discussion in order to provide attendees with a better understanding of these types of cases. The speakers, Alexandra Peredo-Carroll from Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), An Le from the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, and Seth Purcell from the Political Asylum Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project discussed their expertise with pro bono immigration work, from discussing the types of cases they see to the ethical and professional responsibilities.

Purcell described the mission of the PAIR project, which is focused on connecting attorneys to and providing legal services for asylum seekers and immigrants in detention, many facing deportation.  PAIR also provides trainings and mentorships for volunteers, which all the panelists agreed is an extremely important part of being able to provide assistance to people with extremely complicated immigration cases.

Peredo-Carroll discussed how KIND solely assists unaccompanied minors who are going through deportation proceedings.  With the nature of this work being so sensitive, KIND also provides extensive trainings to their volunteers to make sure that those in need get the best representation they can.

While the mayor’s office does not provide legal services to constituents, city employees do work with groups like KIND and PAIR to connect  a wide range of people with immigration problems to the help they need, Le explained.  He spoke about the difficulty of refraining from giving legal advice while fulfilling the office’s legal and ethical responsibility to help people with legal issues.

Both Purcell and Peredo-Carroll  said it is important for attorneys to devote  as much time and effort to pro bono cases as  paid cases. While Massachusetts does not currently require attorneys to complete pro bono hours, Professional Conduct Rule 6.1 urges attorneys  devote at least 25 hours a year to pro bono work or donate between $250 or 1% of the attorney’s taxable income to legal services providers.

For more information on how to get involved with pro bono immigration work, please contact Cassandra Shavney at cshavney@bostonbar.org.