Karla Vehrs is a partner in the Litigation Department at Ballard Spahr. But outside of her practice, she is dedicated to serving immigrants as their pro bono counsel. Her interest in the area started when she heard firsthand, through an internship at the Minnesota-based Advocates for Human Rights, the traumatic experiences of families who fled their countries to the U.S.

Her work now largely involves helping obtain special visas for victims of serious crime and human trafficking. "It's frustrating for me—and I've gone through this process quite a few times now. Every time I take on a new case I find it to be at least somewhat bewildering all over again. So I cannot even fathom what it's like to try to go through this process and advocate for yourself when you don't have that experience and training," said Vehrs.

She is grateful for the valuable perspective her work has provided. "This isn't the ordinary work that we do. The experiences that we get, and the opportunities to learn about them, and learn from them and help them, are life-changing," said Vehrs.

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