As Co-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Litigation’s Immigration Litigation Committee, Dree Collopy recently collaborated with immigration attorneys from across the country to develop and conduct an immigration training at the ABA 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. In partnership with the ABA Commission on Immigration, Dree’s committee provided a pro bono training program designed to encourage attorneys to serve immigrants in need of a zealous advocate and to equip those attorneys with the skills they need to provide high quality, effective representation for people in removal proceedings.
From August 2nd to the 7th, Chicago, Illinois was inundated with members of the American Bar Association, who congregated in “the Second City” for the ABA’s 2012 Annual Meeting. Everywhere you looked there were lawyers. Some were learning about architecture on tour boats on the Chicago River, while others marveled at the views from atop the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and shopped on Michigan Avenue and State Street “that great street.” Still more ate deep-dish pizza and Italian beef, perhaps while tapping their feet to the blues rhythm at Buddy Guy’s Legends or cheering on the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Amidst the city’s many attractions, however, thousands of America’s attorneys gathered to further the practice of law and the legal profession. Countless engaged in Continuing Legal Education and leadership meetings focused on strategizing another year aimed at serving the public, defending liberty, and delivering justice for all.
One of the Annual Meeting’s critical goals was to develop ways in which ABA members could serve the public by providing pro bono services to underrepresented populations. At the forefront of the dialogue was the plight of the most vulnerable groups in America. Facing language barriers, increased detention, notario fraud, erosion of due process, and a lack of access to counsel, immigrants and refugees are in desperate need of skilled advocates in the fight for justice. As Co-Chair of the ABA Section on Litigation’s Immigration Litigation Committee, Dree collaborated with committed attorneys from across the country to address this very need. Together, they educated attorneys on Immigration Court procedures and assisted them in developing the skills needed to represent clients in Immigration Court. Dree and the other contributors trained attorneys on how to seek various forms of relief from removal, and opined on ethical issues that arise when representing clients in removal proceedings. Chicago Immigration Judge Giambastiani generously donated her time to provide tips from the bench, passionately affirming the need for effective representation in Immigration Court and urging attorneys to participate in defining a more just system by undertaking pro bono immigration cases.
As an attorney who avidly represents this vulnerable group daily, it was inspiring for Dree to witness corporate, tax, and tort attorneys focusing their attention on addressing the pronounced need for pro bono representation for immigrants. The Immigration Litigation Committee’s programs ensured that those committed attorneys boarded their flights from Chicago equipped to zealously and effectively advocate their immigrant clients’ matters before the nation’s Immigration Courts. Dree boarded her flight from O’Hare to Washington National encouraged by the commitment of our nation’s attorneys and her Committee’s ability to further the mission of increasing pro bono immigration representation nationwide. Whether representing the single mother of two U.S. citizen children facing removal from the United States, the political activist fleeing imprisonment and torture, or the undocumented victim of years of abuse at the hands of a U.S. citizen, the dedicated attorneys who congregated in Chicago will be defending liberty and delivering justice to people in great need of skilled and trained advocates.