Legal Pro Bono Program Work Helps Victims of Domestic Abuse
When Preeti Narayan, Second Vice President & Counsel in Corporate Advisory and Transactions at Guardian, decided to pursue a career in law, she did it because she was driven by a passion for helping people - a common feeling among her colleagues in our law department. Now, several years later, she’s continuing to give back and making a difference through the law department’s pro bono work with Her Justice.
Her Justice is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal help to women living in poverty in New York City. Their signature program focuses on advancing U visa immigration cases which are earmarked for victims of mental or physical abuse.
The U visa is a United States nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
“Applying for a U visa is a lengthy and very complicated process – even for an attorney,” says Preeti. “So, just imagine what this process would feel like for someone who is suffering severe abuse and, who in most cases, does not understand English.”
That’s where our lawyers and colleagues in the law department come in. They offer their time to serve as legal counsel, or translators, for these women and assist them in all stages of the process from filing the U visa application through representing them in front of the United States Custom and Immigration Services.
“Our partnership with Her Justice is part of a robust pro bono program we launched in the legal department last year,” says Harris Oliner, Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, who led the effort. “All of the colleagues involved will tell you it is such a rewarding experience to be able to help – but, what they won’t tell you is that they have worked tirelessly and passionately behind the scenes, often in their own spare time after work, to support these individuals. I, personally, have been so inspired by their generosity, their passion and their willingness to help those in need and I can tell you the recipients are beyond grateful.”
Members of the law department worked on thirteen cases with Her Justice staff attorneys to represent Her Justice clients. And, on Feb. 28, the team was recognized with a “Commitment to Justice” award by the Her Justice organization.
According to Her Justice, “the Guardian volunteers treat each client with compassion and care, and approach each case with diligence and an open mind. Since the beginning of our partnership, Guardian has provided top-level support for its pro bono work with Her Justice and we are grateful for the enthusiasm of the volunteers and the passion with which they throw themselves into each new case, ready to give their all to enabling a survivor of intimate partner violence to transform her life.”
“It’s a very humbling experience,” adds Preeti. “This is one of the most satisfying parts of being a lawyer – knowing that you have helped to make a difference in one person’s life.”