VECINA is excited to announce that five attorneys from the law firm Akin Gump have joined VECINA as mentors. Akin Gump is a global law firm dedicated to social justice. It has a robust pro bono practice in which many of its attorneys participate. All of our new mentors have vast experience in asylum law through their pro bono work, and we are thrilled to welcome them to our team!

Steven H. Schulman

Akin Gump, Partnersschulman@akingump.com202.887.4071

Steven Schulman has handled dozens of asylum and other immigration cases, with a particular emphasis on complex matters, such as those involving the application of terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility. He joined Akin Gump in 2006 as its first full-time pro bono partner, and he has seen participation in the pro bono practice increase substantially in every office and across every practice group. The firm’s lawyers now devote an average of more than 100 hours annually to pro bono client matters.

Under Steven’s leadership, the firm has built strong relationships with local and national legal services organizations and has developed experience in several areas of pro bono practice, such as representing charter schools, working with refugees and victims of human rights abuses, and providing legal counsel to military personnel and their families.

Steven leads and supervises the firm’s Pro Bono Scholars Program. Started in Washington in 2008, this two-summer program, now in Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, New York and Houston, identifies and develops top law students to become the next generation of Akin Gump lawyers committed to building the firm’s pro bono practice.

Before joining the firm, Steven led the pro bono practice at another large international firm as its first pro bono counsel. He developed and implemented that firm’s signature Child Refugee Project, assisting unaccompanied alien children in the United States through individual representation, legislative advocacy and systemic reform. As a result of this project, thousands of children were moved from detention to foster care.

Steven is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, where he teaches seminars on law firm economics and pro bono practice. He has also taught at Stanford Law School and The George Washington University Law School.

Lauren Connell

Akin Gump, Pro Bono Counsellconnell@akingump.com212.872.7410

Lauren Connell works with Akin Gump’s Pro Bono Partner to manage the firm’s pro bono practice and develop pro bono opportunities for our lawyers. Lauren maintains an active immigration practice, with a particular focus on defensive asylum and representation of detained migrants.  She also advises nonprofit organizations on corporate governance matters. Before becoming pro bono counsel, she practiced corporate law at Akin Gump, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions and securities transactions.

Lauren began her Akin Gump career working as the coordinator of the Karnes City Immigrant Family Pro Bono Project in San Antonio, Texas. In this role, she represented detained Central American women and children refugees seeking asylum in the United States and also coordinated the pro bono effort to match lawyers to clients. Her work was profiled in the National Law Journal and also recognized in The New York Times Magazine. While in law school, Lauren served as an executive editor of The University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law.

Maka Y. Hutson

Akin Gump, Counselmhutson@akingump.com214.969.2781

Maka Hutson regularly advises clients on various aspects of immigration and nationality law, including: employment visas, permanent residency, naturalization, I-9 compliance (including in mergers and acquisitions), immigration-related internal investigations, foreign national hiring practices, diplomatic visas, EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, visa issuance abroad, waivers of inadmissibility, family-based immigration petitions, legislative and regulatory immigration policy proposals.

She represents businesses and individuals before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State (DOS) and Department of Labor (DOL) in obtaining employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa status, including: specialty occupation professionals (H-1B), intracompany transfers of executives and specialists (L-1), treaty-based investors and traders (E-1 and E-2), exchange visitors (J-1), individuals of extraordinary ability (O-1), short-term visitors (B-1 and B-2), permanent residency categories for individuals of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, multinational managers and executives, and other professionals (EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3; labor certification), and immigrant investors (EB-5).

Maka is active in the firm’s pro bono practice and has handled multiple asylum and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) cases. She works closely with several nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to underserved immigrant communities. She has also represented clients in impact litigation under the Torture Victims Protection Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While attending law school, Maka represented clients as a student attorney in the immigration clinic and won a case in immigration court.

Prior to law school, Maka worked as a program coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin advising international students and faculty on immigration and tax matters. She was a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and served as a liaison with the DHS, DOS and Social Security Administration.

Dennis Jared Windscheffel

Akin Gump, Senior Counseldwindscheffel@akingump.com210.281.7176

Dennis Windscheffel represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex commercial disputes. He has represented a diverse body of clients in a variety of industries, including:, insurance, securities, energy, real estate, construction, oil and gas, intellectual property, and telecommunications.

Dennis has handled numerous matters on a pro bono basis, including representing more than a hundred refugees over the last ten years.  He has repeatedly been recognized for his long-standing commitment to pro bono legal services. In October 2018, Dennis was selected as a “Pro Bono Champion” by the Texas Access to Justice Commission. In 2015, Dennis was part of a group of Akin Gump attorneys who received the State Bar of Texas Frank Newton Award. In 2014, Dennis was recognized as Akin Gump’s pro bono counsel of the year. 

Dennis is also part of a group of attorneys who organized and participated in the Karnes City Project, a collaborative project that provides pro bono representation to refugees from Central America.  

Michelle A. Reed

Akin Gump, Partnermreed@akingump.com214.969.2713

Michelle Reed has nearly two decades of experience advising companies, boards, and executives on navigating the evolving risks in privacy and cybersecurity regulation, enforcement, and class action litigation. She assists clients in conducting comprehensive privacy and security risk assessments, and develops policies and procedures to mitigate and remediate privacy and cybersecurity threats. Michelle is especially adept at working across business units in finding practical, compliant solutions for clients.

As a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US, International Association of Privacy Professionals), Michelle counsels corporations in data breach investigations and notifications, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cybersecurity compliance and regulatory issues, privacy and data protection compliance, and cloud computing advice.

Michelle also represents clients in a variety of complex civil litigation matters, including securities class actions, derivative suits and consumer class actions.