Tahirih Justice Center benefits from our generous network of pro bono attorneys from law firms and corporate partners who donate their time and expertise to create a world where women and girls enjoy equality and live in safety and with dignity.
In the Bay Area, Tahirih has partnered with the legal team at Airbnb since 2017 shortly after our office opened. Their continued support for adjustment of status clinics has had a significant impact on immigrant survivors in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping survivors access work permits, green cards, and other legal protections. Noga Firstenberg and Meg Cesare, the co-chairs of Airbnb’s legal pro bono committee, shared more about why Airbnb supports Tahirih’s mission and their experience volunteering with Tahirih.
How did you first become involved with Tahirih Justice Center?
Airbnb started providing pro bono support to Tahirih in 2017, before we joined the legal team at Airbnb. Each of us started volunteering with Airbnb’s pro bono committee soon after we joined the company and we have co-chaired the pro bono committee for the past year. We have worked with Tahirih to organize multiple volunteer opportunities for our legal team to help Tahirih’s clients, most recently for a virtual adjustment of status clinic in December 2022 to support trafficking survivors in their application for permanent residency.
What inspires you to participate in Tahirih’s mission serving immigrant survivors of gender-based violence?
In line with Airbnb’s mission and values, the Airbnb legal team believes in giving back to the community, fostering connections with local non profits, and putting our law degrees and legal know-how to use for the greater good. Many members of the legal team come from immigrant families, care deeply about social justice initiatives, are involved with non-profit organizations and pro bono initiatives outside our day to day jobs, and enjoy doing volunteer work both individually and as a team. We are especially inspired by Tahirih’s mission to help survivors of gender-based violence with immigration-related services.
What impacts have you had working with Tahirih that you are most proud of?
We’ve had many of our legal team members from the US, Canada, and Mexico get involved with multiple Tahirih pro bono clinics over the past five years and we have served approximately 70 clients since the beginning of our partnership with Tahirih.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered working with immigrant survivors of violence?
I have personally struggled with the feeling of helplessness – knowing how much the clients have gone through leaves me wishing that I could do more. However, I know that every small bit helps. The time that we spend filling out adjustment of status applications can contribute in a large way to the clients’ journeys and also shows them that even through all the larger systemic legal, economic, and social challenges that they face, there are people who care and want to help. At first, I was also worried that it would be hard to connect with Tahirih’s clients or that they would be reluctant to share information with me, but I have had wonderful experiences connecting on a personal level and learning about the lives of the clients I’ve worked with.
Is there a particular story about working with Tahirih that you’d like to share?
The pro bono clinics we’ve partnered on with Tahirih have been incredibly impactful for all of the attorneys and legal professionals from our team who have volunteered. Our legal team members always walk away with a deep sense of connection with the clients, extremely inspired by their personal stories, and with a great appreciation for Tahirih and the work that the organization does. We continue to work with Tahirih because of the wonderful clinics we get to take part in and because the Airbnb legal team members who participate always ask how soon they can get involved in another Tahirih pro bono clinic!
What would you say to other law firms and corporations thinking about participating in Tahirih’s pro bono program?
We highly recommend that anyone get involved with Tahirih’s pro bono program! Tahirih has been extremely helpful in organizing logistics to make the clinics seamless and the Tahirih team offers incredible support and education for Airbnb’s volunteers. All our legal team participants have had meaningful experiences providing pro bono support for Tahirih’s clients and continue to volunteer for these clinics multiple times a year.
If you are an attorney interested in learning more about Tahirih’s pro bono opportunities, please visit our FAQ page and sign up to join our network to receive email updates and see case opportunities.