Paul, Weiss is committed to providing impactful pro bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations in need. Our program is all-encompassing, spanning the core issues facing our society.
Paul, Weiss Named “Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year” by the ACLU
- April 21, 2022
Paul, Weiss was recognized as the American Civil Liberties Union’s inaugural “Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year” for the firm’s sustained, momentous efforts over the past several years on behalf of families who were subject to the cruel and inhumane family separation practices of the Trump administration. In 2018, after a district court ordered the Trump administration to reunify all separated families and the administration declared itself unwilling to do so, the ACLU formed a Steering Committee with three nonprofit partners to facilitate reunifications of parents and children. Paul, Weiss stepped in to chair the Steering Committee, taking a leading role in the arduous task of tracking down parents who were deported without their children, many of whom remained in federal custody. With the E-Discovery department’s invaluable support, the firm also took the lead in managing voluminous amounts of data about thousands of separated parents and children. The firm also was responsible for communicating with the court both in written status reports and at frequent court conferences, providing data and information to the court that became an authoritative source in the press on the status of the family reunifications.
Paul, Weiss’s role on the Steering Committee then expanded when the firm took on responsibility for locating an additional group of approximately 1,200 separated parents that had not been previously disclosed by the government. Many of these parents had been separated from their children for years and contact information for them had become stale. After painstaking efforts by Paul, Weiss and our NGO partners, most of these parents have now been located, but efforts to locate the remaining parents continue. With the Biden administration’s creation of the Family Reunification Task Force, the Paul, Weiss team has been actively working with the Task Force to reunify separated families, and seeking relief for impacted families with respect to their immigration cases.
In 2019, the ACLU also turned to Paul, Weiss to partner in litigation to hold the government financially accountable for these traumatic, unlawful separations. Paul, Weiss and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Arizona seeking damages on behalf of a putative class of impacted parents and children. The complaint describes in detail the harm done to parents and children—including babies and toddlers—who were torn from their parents’ arms with little or no warning, explanation or answers. As set forth in the complaint, children were detained in punitive conditions, including without communication with their parents for weeks or months, and parents were detained separately and kept in the dark about the whereabouts of their children. The lawsuit is ongoing and recently survived a motion to dismiss.
All told, over 300 attorneys at the firm have volunteered to work with the ACLU to locate and assist separated families and obtain compensation for them, logging over 18,000 hours. With Paul, Weiss’s assistance, the Steering Committee has found the vast majority of the over 1,500 parents it was tasked with locating.
The Paul, Weiss Steering Committee team is led by litigation counsel Steve Herzog, corporate associate David Marshall and litigation associate Allison Penfield.
The Paul, Weiss Arizona team includes litigation partners Geoffrey Chepiga and Jacqueline Rubin, counsel Hallie Goldblatt and Steven Herzog, and associates Kimberly Grambo, Adam Savitt, Jennifer Deneault, William McKitterick III, John Hammel Strauss, Amanda Valerio, Ryan Streit, Lauren Varga, Timothy Beavers, Sander Saba, John Donnelly V, Nicholas Butto, Miguel Zamora, and Eric Abrams; corporate associates David Marshall and Ruel Jerry; and pro bono attorney Tanaz Moghadam.
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