The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Maine’s only statewide provider of free and low-cost legal assistance to immigrants and refugees, selected Berman & Simmons as the Pro Bono Firm of the Year for 2017.
In addition, ILAP named Berman & Simmons attorney Alicia Curtis as the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.
The awards were presented at the Maine State Bar Association’s Legal Year in Review on November 16 at the Augusta Civic Center. They recognize a law firm and attorney who stand out as exceptional in their commitment and dedication to ILAP’s Pro Bono Asylum Project.
ILAP has a panel of 160 attorneys who volunteer on the Pro Bono Asylum Project, representing asylum seekers who have fled persecution and abuse in their home countries and who need protection in the United States. ILAP pro bono attorneys represent approximately 150 clients each year, contributing over 4,000 hours of their time valued at more than $600,000.
“Berman & Simmons was recognized as ILAP’s 2017 Pro Bono Firm of the Year as a result of expanding its pro bono asylum caseload and extraordinary commitment to providing legal representation of asylum seekers in Lewiston,” the organization said in a press release.
“The firm responded in a stunning way to ILAP’s recent call for help in Lewiston when the need for attorneys to represent asylum seekers became overwhelming. Berman & Simmons organized itself immediately to offer assistance and legal representation with an impressive, ambitious, and creative approach that is truly the gold standard-level of pro bono practice.”
“ILAP’s choice of Berman & Simmons attorney Alicia Curtis, Esq. as the 2017 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year reflects Alicia’s significant role in responding to that need in 2017. Alicia agreed to take on several cases this year, including for clients who needed immediate representation with little time for Alicia to prepare for court hearings.
“Alicia has been a zealous advocate for her asylum clients, always very detail-oriented, thorough, and compassionate, and also willing to take bold steps on her clients’ behalf that have served them well. Alicia magnified the impact of her own commitment by organizing Berman & Simmons’ expanded role on ILAP’s Pro Bono Panel.”
According to ILAP’s Executive Director Sue Roche: “Alicia Curtis and her colleagues at Berman & Simmons are models of what pro bono work should look like. They have really expanded ILAP’s capacity to assist asylum seekers in Lewiston. Having an attorney can make all of the difference in what is often a life or death situation. Statistics show that asylum seekers applying for asylum in immigration court without an attorney are facing a 90% denial rate, whereas ILAP pro bono attorneys have maintained a 100% approval rate for asylum claims that reach a final decision in the past two years.”
About Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project
As Maine’s only statewide provider of free and low-cost comprehensive immigration legal assistance for low-income residents, ILAP keeps people safe from violence and persecution, keeps families together and helps immigrants gain legal status that leads to economic security. To learn more about ILAP, please visit their site at www.ilapmaine.org.
About Berman & Simmons
Berman & Simmons, P.A. is a law firm of 18 attorneys with offices in Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor, Maine. The firm has represented injured Maine people for more than 100 years. Chambers USA has described Berman & Simmons as “the best plaintiffs' personal injury and medical malpractice firm in Maine.” The firm has also appeared twice in the National Law Journal Top 100 Verdicts, which ranks the largest jury awards in the nation.
Alicia Curtis, Berman & Simmons