The Florence Project also presented Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie attorney Brian Kim with the Children’s Program Pro Bono of the Year award for persevering through difficult cases. Awards were presented in Phoenix on Sept. 1.
The Florence Project is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to men, women and unaccompanied children in immigration custody in Arizona. It was created in 1989 in response to concerns over the absence of a public defender system for detained indigent immigrants, which threatened their statutory and constitutional rights.
“Pro bono service is in our firm’s DNA. While some may shy away from unpopular or tough matters, we believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity for justice,” said Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Managing Partner Kenneth Van Winkle Jr. “We as a firm support those who provide the time and energy to do this important work, and are proud to partner with the Florence Project. It’s an honor to be recognized as Law Firm Partner of the Year.”
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie has supported the nonprofit since the project’s start, when attorney Chris Brelje spent a year establishing the organization. Today, the Florence Project provides free legal services to the more than 3,000 people detained on any given day in detention facilities in Florence and Eloy and more than 1,400 children detained in shelters in Phoenix and Tucson.
“I chose to work with the Florence Project specifically due to my firm’s longstanding connection. I wanted to continue and strengthen that connection our firms share,” said Kim. “The Florence Project offers the opportunity to help clients who consist of some of the most vulnerable populations we have here in America—immigrant juveniles. I view my work as a first step to help these clients achieve a more prosperous life in America.”
“Pro bono attorneys allow us to expand access to justice for men, women and children in immigration detention in Arizona,” said Lauren Dasse, executive director of the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project.
“Individuals in immigration proceedings do not have a government provided representation, and the vast majority represent themselves because they cannot afford an attorney. This is why pro bono volunteer attorneys are so important, and make such an impact,” she explained.