Alan J. Davis Pro Bono Prize Awarded to Immigrant Advocates
Ballard Spahr's annual Alan J. Davis award was presented this week to a team of firm lawyers who have worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to meet the legal needs of immigrant asylum-seekers being detained in remote locations in rural Georgia. The award’s $25,000 prize will be donated to the SPLC's Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI).
Working with SIFI, which was created to protect the due process rights of immigrants detained in areas of the South with little or no access to legal aid, the Ballard Spahr team members traveled to Georgia, where they spent a week counseling detainees. They represented immigrants in credible fear interviews, bond hearings, and asylum applications.
"These immigrants are held in detention centers so remote that there isn't a lawyer within miles," said Lawrence K. Nodine, an Atlanta-based intellectual property litigator who jumped into action and whose leadership inspired others to join the team. "Without access to representation, these detainees are at a high risk of having their rights trampled. And at Ballard, we're committed to protecting rights and access to justice for all people. SIFI connected us to an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment."
After returning home, the lawyers continued their representation of several detainees they met during their time with SIFI. In addition to Mr. Nodine, the members of the team include Partners Timothy D. Katsiff, Mitchell A. Katz, Michelle M. McGeogh, and Kim Ruckdaschel-Haley; Of Counsel Sarah T. Reise; and Associates Sadé Calin, Alyssa Domzal, Jennifer L. Feden, Courtney E. Hunter, Spencer P. Mead, and Anu S. Thomas. They hail from the firm's Atlanta, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., offices.
The firm is also organizing additional teams of lawyers to travel to the detention centers this summer and fall.
The Alan J. Davis Award is named for the late Philadelphia City Solicitor and distinguished Ballard Spahr litigator who was deeply devoted to public service.
Ballard Spahr consistently ranks among the top 100 law firms in the Am Law Pro Bono Report and has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of its outstanding commitment to pro bono work. Last year, as the firm marked the 30th anniversary of its pro bono program, it was awarded the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award. As a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, Ballard Spahr has annually made and met a commitment to donate at least 3 percent of its billable hours to pro bono service—more than 51,000 hours this past year.