Jenner & Block

Partner Lindsay Harrison Discusses Her Pro Bono Work

In their words Lindsay HarrisonPartner Lindsay C. Harrison is a litigator who practices in the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice in the firm's Washington, DC office.  She focuses her pro bono work on appellate matters.

Q: What kind of pro bono work do you do at the firm?
Lindsey: I have done mostly appellate pro bono work at the firm.  I have argued an asylum case on behalf of a Cameroonian asylum-seeker in both the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court.  I have represented another asylum-seeker in the US Supreme Court.  And I have written amicus briefs in a variety of Supreme Court cases involving issues such as crack-cocaine sentencing, equal protection challenge to US citizenship laws, habeas corpus rights of detainees, and voting rights.   I have also worked closely with the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center to bring appellate matters involving asylum law to the Firm, which have provided opportunities for many associates to argue in the federal courts of appeals.

I have also worked on non-appellate matters, including a death penalty case challenging Georgia’s burden of proof for defendants to demonstrate mental retardation.  And I have advised non-profit organizations such as Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, and the National Law Center on Poverty and Homelessness on litigation strategy.

Q: Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the firm.
Lindsey: The most significant pro bono case I have worked on at Jenner & Block is the asylum case of Jean Marc Nken.  Nken is an asylum-seeker from Cameroon who was jailed and beaten there for his political activism in seeking true democratic governance.  Nken’s case came to us after he lost his first asylum case and he was detained and set for deportation.  We took his appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court, ensuring that he could remain in the United States with his US citizen wife and young son while we fought for his asylum claim.  I have worked with more than 25 Jenner lawyers over the course of three years (and counting) to ensure that Nken prevailed in the Supreme Court, the Fourth Circuit, the Bureau of Immigration Appeals, and the Immigration Judge.  Our efforts have ensured that he could remain here with his family and avoid grave danger that would come to him if he were deported to Cameroon.

Q: Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
Lindsey: Pro bono work makes me a better person and a better lawyer.  My father emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1970s in order to escape persecution and to afford me and my family a better life in the United States.  Through my pro bono work, I have had the good fortune to provide a similar opportunity to my clients, keeping asylum-seekers safe from persecution and protecting many of the civil rights that make this country free and just.  I have also had incredible opportunities through pro bono work to argue in the US Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals and to collaborate with some of the leading civil rights lawyers in the country on cutting edge litigation.

Q: How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Lindsey: Jenner & Block has encouraged me to pursue pro bono work and has given me the resources, support and mentoring to ensure that I would succeed.  As an associate, I was mooted by over 10 lawyers at various times to prepare me for appellate arguments and many other lawyers assisted with briefing and research as well.  Every single lawyer whose assistance I sought out was enthusiastic and supportive in response.  This has continued in my work as a partner, with the firm saying “yes” to every pro bono case I have sought to pursue.

Q: How has pro bono helped you professionally?
Lindsey: Pro bono work has given me opportunities to argue in court and take the lead on briefing.  It has made me a better writer, a better strategist, and a more experienced advocate.  I can sell myself to clients as someone with experience arguing in court because pro bono cases have given me the opportunities to do so.

Q: What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
Lindsey: My experience in pro bono matters has been one of the best parts of being a lawyer at Jenner & Block.

 

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