Advocating for Unaccompanied Refugee and Immigrant Children

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) recognized Munger, Tolles & Olson with its Pro Bono Attorneys of the Month designation in January 2015 for its longstanding support and success in winning asylum grants for extremely vulnerable children in 2014. Munger Tolles was one of the first law firms to partner with KIND since the organization opened its Los Angeles office in 2009.

Founded by Angelina Jolie and the Microsoft Corporation, KIND provides quality legal counsel to unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children in the United States and seeks to ensure that no such child appears in immigration court without representation.

Munger Tolles “has repeatedly proven its dedication to due process for these children, many of [whom] have fled severe and pervasive violence in their home countries from which their governments could not protect them,” wrote KIND in a 2015 article about Munger Tolles’ involvement in the organization.

Attorneys from the firm have devoted hundreds of hours to partnering with KIND to defend the rights of children in need. Much of Munger Tolles’ success on behalf of the organization is due to the work of several attorneys.

Joseph D. Lee, who spearheads the firm’s commitment to KIND, requests difficult cases that will stretch and challenge Munger Tolles attorneys.

“These cases are great training for our junior lawyers,” said Mr. Lee in an interview with the organization. “While the legal issues are different from our day to day, the process is quite similar to what junior lawyers need to succeed as litigators. We treat these pro bono cases no differently than any paying client.”

This approach has paid off, both for Munger Tolles attorneys and the individuals they have represented through KIND.

Many Munger Tolles attorneys were directly involved in the firm’s successful KIND cases in 2014, winning asylum for each of their five clients. John P. Mittelbach and Jennifer M. Broder helped one client gain asylum after she fled Guatemala to escape the escalating persecution she faced due to her indigenous Mayan heritage. Benjamin E. Friedman and Thane Rehn won asylum for a Honduran teenager who was seeking refuge from his gang-affiliated half-brothers.

Along with Mr. Lee, Jeremy A. Lawrence and Kenneth M. Trujillo-Jamison helped their client gain asylum after she fled El Salvador to the U.S. to escape an abusive and neglectful father.

In the firm’s 2015 profile, Rosalind Oliver, KIND’s Supervising Attorney for Pro Bono Programs in Los Angeles, said that working with Munger Tolles’ dedicated attorneys on the organization’s asylum cases has been a tremendous honor.

“We can always count on [Munger Tolles] attorneys to go the extra mile and we are so fortunate to have them as our partners,” Ms. Oliver said.

Munger Tolles has a long legacy of supporting KIND. In 2012, Katherine H. Ku was named KIND’s Pro Bono Attorney of the Month for her success in obtaining both Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and lawful permanent resident status in the United States for her client, a 17-year-old high school student who was born in Mexico and suffered years of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.