Within my very first weeks as a lawyer, I was given the incredible opportunity to be paired with a Haitian family that was looking for assistance with their adjustment of status application. Being a first-generation Egyptian-American, I am all too familiar with the struggles immigrants face in assimilating into American culture and navigating the English language – let alone the legal system and jargon that comes along with the process of becoming a citizen. My first client was a mother who spent her time working as a home aid and raising her two children. Collaborating with a translator to help this client through the questions of the application and then seeing the grateful smiles on her and her children’s faces when we had completed the work, I knew this was a cause I would commit to incorporating into my practice.
Goodwin provides an opportunity for its lawyers to volunteer with Project Citizenship, a nonprofit that provides legal assistance to individuals who are applying for U.S. citizenship. Week after week, I meet a new client who fought to come to this country and obtain the opportunities and rights I was privileged to be born with because of my parents’ same courage and journey not too long ago. These clients come from all different countries and have incredibly unique stories – some are students who are aspiring to become doctors or lawyers, just like myself. Others have lived here for decades, struggling to make ends meet so they can provide their children better opportunities than they had in their home country.
There is no better feeling than leveraging the skills I have developed reading legal agreements in corporate transactions in order to bridge the gap between an individual who learned English as a second language and our legal system, with all of its complexities. Pro bono provides the fulfilling opportunity to do just that.