This week is the National Celebration of Pro Bono! We love our pro bono attorneys at Tahirih – their dedication, generosity with their time and resources, and commitment to our clients enables us to fulfill our mission serving immigrant women, girls, and survivors of gender-based violence.
We will be celebrating many of our incredible pro bono partners this week. Today, we’re proud to share the experience of our long-time pro bono and Board member Rwanda Campbell, who is the Pro Bono Manager at Arnold and Porter. She has been taking on Tahirih cases since 2013 and we recognized her at our Journey to Justice Awards Reception in June as one of our pro bono partners who have taken on the greatest number of cases. Rwanda started working with Tahirih as a pro bono attorney in 2013 after she joined the law firm of Arnold and Porter as a staff attorney and learned about Tahirih from her colleagues.
How did you first get connected to Tahirih Justice Center?
Our firm has a long-standing partnership with Tahirih started by our relationship with founder, Layli Miller-Muro who was a former Arnold & Porter associate.
Early on in my career at Arnold & Porter, I attended a U visa training hosted by Tahirih and took my first U Visa client who was both an immigrant and survivor of domestic violence. As a new attorney, I was admittedly nervous, but this feeling quickly passed due to the level of support, guidance, and mentorship that I received while working with my Tahirih co-counsel and attorney mentor.
This first experience was transformative and helped me move from feeling timid about the assistance I could provide, to feeling confident in knowing that this work had a far reaching and positive impact on the client’s life and family. Remarkably, I continue to represent that same client today. Ten years later, we are now applying for the client’s green card.
What inspires you to support Tahirih’s mission serving immigrant survivors of gender-based violence?
Tahirih’s mission of serving immigrant women, girls, and survivors of gender-based violence resonates with me personally on many levels. I am the daughter of immigrant parents from the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the mother of a young girl child. I know firsthand of the many challenges the immigrant community can face when navigating the ever-changing landscape of immigration in the United States.
What inspires me most is the courage, resolve, and tenacity of the brave survivors whom I work with. These women and mothers remain steadfast in their quest for a better life for themselves and their family. It is often the smallest offering of help that can make the biggest impact on one’s life and shape the trajectory of their future. With the assistance of Tahirih and pro bono attorneys, they are successful in obtaining this goal.
What do you appreciate most about partnering with Tahirih as a pro bono attorney?
My appreciation for partnering with Tahirih is two-fold. Their mentorship program is excellent, and their subject matter expertise is second to none. Tahirih provides pro bono attorneys with trainings and timely updates to keep attorneys in sync with the ever-changing information that may impact our mutual client. The staff at Tahirih are also extremely compassionate and collegial. Working with them is truly a mutually beneficial experience.
In addition to providing superior legal expertise, Tahirih also offers clients a holistic approach to assistance by making social services available. This significant factor helps to empower clients in their immigration journey by providing them with additional security and assistance. In doing so, clients are more confident and readily available to assist on their own case. I appreciate being able to work with clients who feel empowered to help on their own journey.
Is there a particular case working with Tahirih that stands out that you’d like to share?
I have served dozens of Tahirih clients over the past 10 years and each one has provided me with a meaningful experience. My most memorable case was also my most challenging case. I had volunteered to ‘fill in’ for a colleague who was out on parental leave and had a pending U visa adjustment matter. Within weeks of me stepping in to assist, we received news that the client’s derivative spouse had left the country and returned home. This misstep threatened to invalidate his pending application, and he incurred a 10-year bar from re-entering into the United States. The client was the mother of two small children, and desperately needed the financial and emotional support of her husband to care for their family. The legal journey for this matter was complicated and uncertain. It was a challenging two-year road, that ultimately led to the granting of an inadmissibility waiver and reunification of the family.
How has working on pro bono cases with Tahirih and being a Board member impacted your career?
I began my career at Arnold & Porter as a staff attorney in the litigation department and did a significant amount of pro bono work with Tahirih during that time. The matters that I worked on allowed me to develop a skillset outside of my daily litigation practice. It also served as the impetus for me to join our Firm’s Immigration Intake Committee, as well as take on other leadership and mentorship roles within the Firm. Currently I am the firm’s Pro Bono Manager and continue to expand and bolster our pro bono program.
My work with Tahirih afforded me the great privilege of serving on Tahirih’s Board of Directors. I work with a group of brilliant, compassionate, like-hearted individuals who are mission focused and tireless in advocating for the rights of immigrant women and children. Being a part of this group has been one of the highlights of my professional career.
My experiences with Tahirih and their clients have enriched me both personally and professionally in ways that I never anticipated, and I will forever be grateful.
What would you say to others who are considering working on a case with Tahirih?