Munger, Tolles & Olson is pleased to announce that Public Counsel has awarded Tina Charoenpong and Connie Chiang its Advocates of the Year Award for their contributions to the organization’s Immigrant Right’s Project (IRP). Ms. Charoenpong and Ms. Chiang were recognized for their work in securing a T-visa for their client, a victim of human trafficking, as well as obtaining derivative visas for the client’s sister and two children. Ms. Charoenpong and Ms. Chiang advocated on the sisters’ behalf to convince federal prosecutors and agents, who were initially skeptical, that their client and her sister were truly victims of trafficking. They also worked with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking to obtain public benefits and psychological counseling for their client.

The efforts of Ms. Charoenpong and Ms. Chiang to go beyond the legal aspects of this case were lauded at a reception held for IRP and advocates of other Public Counsel projects on March 19th at the Los Angeles Times building located in downtown Los Angeles. Impressed by the pair’s achievement, name partner Ron Olson urged others to “ . . . do more to support the truly needy and applaud those of us who do.”

Public Counsel, the world’s largest pro bono public interest law firm, is dedicated to advancing equal justice under law by delivering free legal and social services to the most vulnerable members of our community, including abused and abandoned children, homeless families and veterans, senior citizens, victims of consumer fraud and nonprofit organizations serving low-income communities.

IRP provides representation to individuals facing various immigration-related issues, including victims of trafficking and other violent crime under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTPA) who are eligible for immigration benefits because of their cooperation with United States law enforcement efforts. The recently enacted VTPA created new types of visas to insure that victims of crime would not fear cooperating with United States law enforcement agencies. Once the U.S. government certifies that a non-citizen has cooperated with government criminal investigations, that non-citizen may become eligible for lawful permanent residency. IRP conducts outreach on this new law and provides representation to those that the law protects.

Ms. Charoenpong is an associate in Munger Tolles' litigation practice group. Ms. Chiang is an associate in Munger Tolles' corporate practice group.