Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project Awards Bernstein Shur with Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award
For the 2nd year in a row, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) presented Bernstein Shur with the Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award at their annual ILAP Spring Appreciation Night in May. As Maine’s only state-wide immigration legal services organization, ILAP advances justice and equity for immigrants and their families through direct legal services, community education, and systemic advocacy.
After the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, ILAP’s Afghanistan Project mobilized to support the legal needs of Afghans evacuated by the U.S. government and resettled in Maine under Operation Allies Refuge. With hundreds of Afghan evacuees resettled in Maine, the need was great—and coincided with an already large demand for asylum seeker legal assistance in Maine.
“Bernstein Shur stepped forward and answered our call for help, taking on representation of several families totaling twenty asylum cases. They have devoted hundreds of hours to these complex cases,” said Catherine Lindgren, Senior Project Attorney at ILAP. “The firm’s assistance allowed us to ensure that all Afghans resettled in Maine have legal representation and supports our long-standing reliance on pro bono attorneys to help ILAP expand access to immigration legal services. We are very proud and grateful for the partnership we have with Bernstein Shur.”
Receiving the award that evening was Bernstein Shur attorney and ILAP Board Member Arnie Macdonald alongside his colleagues Molly Gilligan and Rachael Becker McEntee, all of whom dedicated pro bono hours in 2022 to support the Afghanistan Project. Bernstein Shur attorneys Eviana Englert and Jessica O’Rourke-Suchoff and paralegal Megan Quirk were also recognized for supporting the Project, while Bernstein attorneys also worked on non-Afghan cases.
“From the day I joined Bernstein Shur, I learned of the importance of pro bono and community involvement to the firm’s culture, and I joined the ILAP pro bono panel after my colleagues said that asylum cases are among the most important and meaningful cases they work on,” said Macdonald. “As I think about my career as a lawyer, I have found that those helping people through ILAP have truly been the most meaningful. By working on asylum cases, attorneys with all different experience levels can change, and even save, lives.”
Bernstein Shur’s response to the Afghanistan crisis follows many years of consistent and robust support for ILAP’s mission through representation of asylum seekers and board service, and its pro bono support extends beyond this commitment: Bernstein Shur attorneys dedicate more than 2,000 pro bono hours each year to charitable services, providing legal services worth more than $500,000. The firm was founded on core values ensuring civic service and strengthening the community is an integral part of its culture.