Many attorneys around the country want to help asylum-seekers by taking a pro bono case, but don’t have the necessary experience and guidance to provide zealous and confident representation. VECINA mentors are nationally recognized experts to attorneys who have taken on pro bono cases.

How It Works

If you or your nonprofit is interested in working with the VECINA mentoring program, you can expect the following process:

  1. You take a pro bono defense asylum case or your organization places the cases with pro bono attorneys;
  2. You or your organization contacts VECINA regarding mentorship on specific cases;
  3. VECINA double-checks that you meet our mentee requirements and then matches your request to an available mentor;
  4. The pro bono attorney signs the VECINA mentoring agreement and completes the introductory video training;
  5. The pro bono attorney meets with the mentor in person or via video to develop a mentoring plan;
  6. The mentoring relationship continues throughout the course of the case.

FAQs for Pro Bono Attorneys

Pro bono attorneys must complete the Innovation Law Lab online Center of Excellence training prior to meeting with his or her mentor for the first time. You can also check out our attorney resources for more information.

Hands down the biggest issue we’ve seen with pro bono programs is taking ownership and responsibility over the cases. The pro bono attorneys, not the mentors, are the attorneys of record on these cases.

Pro bono attorneys are bound to the ethical obligations of their state bar, including those of competence, diligence, communication, and meeting deadlines. Additional VECINA requirements are the commitment to responding to emails within 2 business days, and meeting specific deadlines set by the mentor and mentee for drafts of briefing and other case milestones.

While it is up to each individual mentor to determine their role in the case, generally mentors will not be present at the final hearing.

No, VECINA will not be able to provide pro bono attorneys with malpractice insurance. We recommend calling your current provider to see if you can add immigration law as a practice area for this limited purpose, or that you contact the organization who placed you with your case (if applicable) to see if they may be able to provide malpractice insurance for the case.

We highly highly recommend that you try to meet your client in person at least once before the individual hearing. How you communicate with your client to prepare the case depends on where you and your client are located. If you client is across the border in Mexico, most can be contacted via WhatsApp. If your client is detained, setting up phone calls or visits at the detention facility is usually the best option.

There is a desperate need for attorneys to represent asylum seekers, and there are not enough immigration lawyers to fulfill all the need. In fact, we fall far short. By taking on a pro bono asylum case, you could literally be saving a life. At the very least, you are standing up for a fellow human being in their time of need.

If you are a nonprofit organization looking to place multiple cases, please contact us at admin@vecina.org.

Support Our Program

Our mentors are paid for their time spent as mentors, and at this time we’re depend on your generosity to keep the program going! If you’d like to make a donation, please visit our donations page. If you are a nonprofit organization looking to place multiple cases, please contact us at admin@vecina.org regarding funding.