Over the last few years, attorneys in Ballard Spahr's Phoenix office have represented nine human trafficking victims hoping to stay in the country legally.
The lawyers represent these clients pro bono in the pursuit of T visas, which were established to encourage victims to work with law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute their traffickers. Ballard Spahr attorneys have successfully obtained T visas for several of the victims, while other cases remain pending.
Associates Lea A. Phillips, Lorna B. Banister, Laura C. Brooks, and Lauren E. McKeon work on these pro bono cases under the direction of Partner Kimberly A. Warshawsky. Cases are referred by the International Rescue Committee.
"These lawyers have used their skills to protect some of the newest and most vulnerable members of our community," said John G. Kerkorian, Managing Partner of the Phoenix office. "They have devoted time and energy to learn this area of the law and have met with great success. We are exceedingly proud of their dedication and good work."
The team currently is representing four Thai women who were trafficked into the United States as sex slaves. The women were brought to Tempe, Arizona, by two suspected co-managers of a local sex trafficking ring and forced to prostitute themselves to pay for the costs to bring them to United States. Upon the arrest of their captors in April 2016, following a months-long investigation by authorities, the women gained their freedom. Their T visas are in process.
In another case, Ms. Phillips and Ms. McKeon obtained a T visa for a Filipino woman who had been exploited as a domestic worker. They also obtained a visa allowing her teenage son to join her in the United States.
The firm's Phoenix attorneys volunteer for a variety of pro bono cases—from partnering with the Tempe Police Department on a Wills for Heroes program, to protecting voter rights, and to providing assistance to the homeless and abused children. They also stay active in the community by volunteering at local food banks and the Lura Turner Homes for adults with disabilities.
Recently, attorneys and staff in the Phoenix office donated nearly 1,200 pairs of socks and enough travel-size toiletries to fill more than three dozen shoeboxes to Shoebox Ministry, a local nonprofit that helps nearly 80 agencies provide much-needed basic necessities to homeless men, women, and children in the Valley.
Ballard Spahr consistently ranks among the top 100 law firms in the Am Law Pro Bono Report
and has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of its outstanding commitment to pro bono work.