(CHICAGO) Katten announced today that it will be honored with Immigration Equality’s Rising Star Award for providing exceptional representation to several LGBTQ+ asylum seekers over the course of the past several years.
“I have worked on pro bono matters with Katten attorneys for many years and know first-hand the great skill they have in doing this work and the passion with which they pursue it,” said Jonathan Baum, senior counsel at Katten and the firm’s director of pro bono services. “Our firm and our profession are lucky to have so many attorneys like those being honored here who are so deeply committed to volunteering their time and skills for the benefit of others.”
Among the attorneys who helped Katten draw its latest pro bono distinction are associates Craig Convissar, Matthew Jennings and Natalie Youkel. They secured asylum for a gay man from El Salvador last March and are currently working on the case of a lesbian client from Azerbaijan, who is seeking refuge in the United States. Also included among those attorneys who helped the firm draw pro bono praise is associate Thomas Artaki, who currently represents a transgender client who fled to the United States in search of asylum after suffering severe persecution in her native Jamaica.
Immigration Equality representatives called this work “life-saving,” particularly as pro bono legal representation became difficult for them to obtain during the pandemic. For its work on these cases, Katten will be honored with the Rising Star Award at the 2021 Safe Haven Awards Virtual Gala on May 20.
Last month, Katten was recognized as an American Bar Association (ABA) 2020 Pro Bono Leader for helping seniors, veterans and other income-eligible individuals better understand the legal aspects of a range of issues, from unemployment and disability to housing and homelessness through the ABA Free Legal Answers Pro Bono program. Katten attorneys fielded more than 100 questions at no cost.
During the virtual ceremony for Katten’s annual Pro Bono Service Awards last year, Baum joined Katten Chairman Roger Furey and guest speaker Judge Ann Claire Williams, a retired judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, to spotlight the volunteerism of 14 firm attorneys.
Immigration Equality is the nation’s leading LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrant rights organization. Through direct legal services, policy advocacy, and impact litigation, the group advocates for immigrants and families facing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.