Human Rights First presented Morrison Foerster with the 2022 Marvin E. Frankel Award at its Manhattan gala earlier this week, recognizing the firm for its outstanding pro bono service to Afghan asylum seekers.
Morrison Foerster was recognized for its contributions to Project: Afghan Legal Assistance (PALA). PALA was begun by Human Rights First to assist the thousands of Afghan refugees who were brought to the United States following our country’s abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer. When Human Rights First asked for help responding to the deluge of calls it received from Afghans seeking legal representation, MoFo pro bono counsel Dorothy Fernandez sprang into action. She recruited and organized more than 150 MoFo lawyers and staff to conduct initial screening interviews of Afghan refugees who had contacted Human Rights First, to determine the refugees’ eligibility for immigration relief. MoFo completed some 330 of these interviews, and in ten cases, our lawyers – motivated by the stories they heard – asked to represent these clients for the entire asylum process. Dorothy also organized a second project, filing applications for “green cards” – permanent residence – for the families of 30 Afghans who had received Special Immigrant Visas because of their work for U.S. forces.
In choosing MoFo to receive this honor, Jenna Gilbert, Director of Refugee Representation for Human Rights First, said, “Out of all our law firm partners, Morrison & Foerster LLP (MoFo), has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to pro bono work on behalf of Afghan refugees.”
Morrison Foerster corporate partner Timothy Harris, who serves as managing partner of MoFo’s Palo Alto office, accepted the award on behalf of the firm. Tim earned his own recognition from Human Rights First earlier this year, when the organization named him a Pro Bono Star for his extraordinary representation of, and assistance to, an Afghan family seeking asylum. Expressing his appreciation for this recognition, Tim noted: “MoFo is honored to support the mission of Human Rights First and its dedication to defend human rights for all. This award underscores our ongoing commitment to making a difference through pro bono service and highlights MoFo’s collaborative efforts to make a real difference in the lives of Afghan asylum seekers.”
The Marvin E. Frankel Award honors law firms who carry out its namesake’s dedication to human rights and pro bono service. Marvin E. Frankel, in addition to his career as a federal judge, was a founder of Human Rights First and former chairman of its Board of Directors. Visit Human Rights First to learn more.