Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP is proud to announce its charter sponsorship of a fellowship that will help efforts to provide legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant children and to assist in the reunification of children with their deported parents.

Partnering with the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation, Hunton Andrews Kurth is providing financial support to Kids in Need of Defense to help fund its hiring of a lawyer who will work with the nonprofit group, which was founded in 2008 to address the needs of children who arrive in the United States alone.

Based in KIND’s Houston office, the AWAF Hunton Andrews Kurth Pro Bono Fellow, Carmen Portillo, will represent and advise children in legal proceedings related to immigration and asylum issues. Her term runs through Aug. 31, 2019.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve children who are in need of representation as they face removal proceedings,” said Portillo, a Houston native who earned her undergraduate degree at Houston Baptist University and her law degree at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. “I have always imagined working towards helping children in my community achieve a better future.”

Many unaccompanied children have fled some of the most dangerous nations in the world – including Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – after having been victims of gender-based or gang-based violence. Some have been trafficked to the United States and have faced neglect or abandonment in addition to sexual assault or other forms of exploitation and violence.

“Hunton Andrews Kurth is honored to partner with KIND in its efforts to help thousands of children by finding them a safe haven and freedom from fear, many for the first time in their young lives,” said Neil D. Kelly, pro bono chair of the firm’s Houston office. “We are proud to be contributing to these vital efforts.”

In addition to the firm’s sponsorship of the KIND-AWAF fellow, the firm employs two full-time, in-house pro bono fellows: one who works with KIND in New York and another who handles matters in the firm’s neighborhood-based pro bono office in Richmond. The firm developed these fellowships in 1996 in response to federal budget cuts to legal aid services. Their time is entirely committed to pro bono work. Each fellowship is a two-year position and is a hands-on opportunity for young lawyers pursuing a career in public service.

Hunton Andrews Kurth is proud of its community service and leadership among law firms in the United States, where the firm’s tradition of pro bono service is well recognized. At the end of the firm’s fiscal year on March 31, 2018, its lawyers had donated more than 40,000 pro bono hours to underserved communities. This represented more than 4 percent of the firm’s gross billable hours and commemorates 24 continuous years of meeting or exceeding the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge of donating at least 3 percent of the firm’s annual billable hours to pro bono service.