The Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN) named McGuireWoods its Law Firm of the Year and Atlanta associate Amy Dehnel as Volunteer Attorney of the Year, in recognition of outstanding and compassionate assistance to their pro bono clients seeking asylum in the United States. GAIN will present the awards during its April 1, 2021, “Un-Gala” virtual auction and event.
“During a time when GAIN was in need of urgent pro bono assistance, McGuireWoods answered our call, hosting a training for their attorneys and accepting all of the cases GAIN was looking to place,” read the announcement. “Their thoughtful representation of our clients left a mark on our organization, and at GAIN, we see our partnership with McGuireWoods as an inspirational example of how a deep pro bono connection can grow from the dedication of a small group of champions at a firm.”
Dehnel, who recently joined McGuireWoods’ Complex Commercial Litigation Department, was recognized for her extraordinary pro bono legal service on behalf of a woman from Mexico who was the survivor of an international sex trafficking ring. “Amy’s work on the case went well beyond the filing of the T-visa application,” the announcement noted. “She showed patience, grace, and an unwavering commitment to helping her client navigate the parallel challenges of life that came up along the way.”
Atlanta associates Meghan Rachford and Natasha Cooper, counsel Jennifer Burbine and partner Richard Beaulieu also assisted GAIN clients over the past five years.
“I have filed two affirmative asylum applications for clients from Nigeria and Venezuela,” Burbine said. “Both clients escaped horrific conditions with their young children, and I am proud to work with GAIN to help them remain in the United States.”
Cooper, who assisted a woman who fled violence and abuse during the civil war in Cameroon, Africa, shared her personal connection to the GAIN clients she serves: “My family immigrated to the United States for a better life, and I understand the challenges many of these asylum seekers face, including fearing for their lives. I understand the privilege I now have and hope to use my position to better the lives of those in dire need.”
Atlanta-based GAIN, founded in 2005, provides pro bono immigration legal services to victims of crime and persecution who seek asylum in the United States, including immigrant survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault. GAIN has helped more than 5,000 people and provided over $15 million in pro bono legal services.