This month, we are pleased to spotlight Noah Liben, a senior associate at the New York office of Mayer Brown. Noah represents two KIND clients from El Salvador in their application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and shared his thoughts on his pro bono experience.
When and why did you first take a KIND case?
I had already taken on another unaccompanied minor / Special Immigrant Juvenile Status ("SIJS") case with a different organization, when a colleague--working with KIND--went on secondment earlier this year and needed someone to assume responsibility for this case. I jumped at the opportunity! I am grateful to Mayer Brown for partnering with KIND on these SIJS cases. The firm has a strong pro bono practice and encourages each attorney to get involved one way or another in pro bono work.
What have you learned from this experience or from your KIND clients?
My clients--two brothers in their late-teens/early-twenties--are wonderful. They are both eyeing enrolling in college in the coming years, and one has aims to be a police officer after that. They are so positive and good natured every time I see them, and they seem truly gratified to be in the U.S. Their attitude in overcoming the adversity they have faced is inspiring.
What is the most surprising thing that you've learned about the U.S. immigration system?
How backed up it seems to be. In my other matter, I was shocked when I was notified that my client's case would be placed on the status docket . . . in three and a half years!
What would you tell other attorneys to encourage them to take a KIND case?
As this is my second SIJS case, I am a little more familiar with the process. But I am by no means a subject matter expert, and Emily Norman and the KIND attorneys are extremely helpful. Emily is always responsive to my myriad questions, and ensures that I am prepared for my court appearances. Immigration law and policy sometimes change unexpectedly in the current political environment, but KIND is well-suited to guide attorneys through the process.
Do you have any advice for attorneys who may be taking their first pro bono case?
Immigration Court can be fast-paced. If the Immigration Judge says something you don't hear or don't understand, make sure you speak up and ask him/her to repeat the comment, or explain the rationale on the record.