Pro Bono

The Pro Bono Committee of the AILA New York Chapter seeks to provide meaningful pro bono opportunities to Chapter members in light of their professional responsibilities, and in support of the suggested guideline of 50 hours of pro bono service each year included in the New York Rules of Professional Conduct. We help organize legal trainings and presentations on important pro bono issues, as well as through regular legal clinics and the Chapter’s Children’s Docket.

2017 Pro Bono Champion Award Winner – Carmen Maria Rey

Carmen Maria Rey is Deputy Director of Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, whose mission is to increase the pool of legal assistance in the field and to relieve gender violence survivors of these challenges by assisting them to obtain legal immigration status, permanent resident status and citizenship.

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As well as the work Carmen has done for Sanctuary, outside of her role she has been instrumental in many additional initiatives, both within AILA and outside of AILA.  She has been a guiding force in the Advocacy department.  She was also one of the founding members of VIAA (Voices In Action in America).  The organization seeks to assist and empower women released from the detention centers, in particular with attending court dates, navigating the school system and local transportation.  This was inspired by her time volunteering at the family detention center in Dilley, TX.


In 2007, in concert with the City Bar Justice Center of the New York City Bar Association, the Pro Bono Committee launched the New York City Immigrant Advocacy Initiative (NYCIAI). The goal of this initiative is to address some of the immigration-related legal needs of New York City’s immigrant population through general immigration legal clinics held in communities throughout the five boroughs. Since its inception, the NYCIAI clinics have offered high quality, free legal consultations to well over 1,000 community members, people who may otherwise fall victim to “notarios” and others engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. More than 350 attorneys have participated in these clinics, which conclude with a legal roadmap for the community members to take away, as well a referral to low cost or free immigration service providers, if necessary. The NYCIAI training and clinics provide a wonderful avenue for attorneys to volunteer in communities throughout New York and learn about immigration law. The NYCIAI has partnered with numerous organizations, such as the Lutheran Family Health Center (Sunset Park, Brooklyn), the Children’s Aid Society in the Bronx and Washington Heights, the Mexican Coalition (the Bronx), and the Borough of Manhattan Community College, to host the NYCIAI clinics. The Pro Bono Committee has also partnered with the CUNY Citizenship Corps to run larger, city-wide clinics as well, such as the 13th Annual CUNY/Daily News Citizenship NOW! Call-in and the 2015 Citywide Deferred Action Day.

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Please check on the calendar regularly for the next NYCIAI clinic!



The Pro Bono Committee also runs a monthly Children’s Docket. The aim of the Children’s Docket is to provide pro bono legal representation for Unaccompanied Children (UAC) in removal proceedings in the New York City Immigration Court. UAC’s are among the most vulnerable populations in the United States. A variety of motives compel these children to make the treacherous trip to the US; some seek employment opportunities to escape the rampant extreme poverty in their home countries, many hope to reunite with relatives and friends, and an exponentially growing number are fleeing violence in their home country. This violence often takes the form of gang and community violence, but we also see a great deal of children with extensive trauma histories including family abuse and sexual violence.
Please consider taking on a pro bono case from the Children’s Docket, or serve as a legal mentor for our volunteer attorneys!

Children’s Docket CONTACT:


Member Role
Lauren DeBellis Aviv Co-Chair