A Signature Pro Bono Program

The Government of Mexico tapped Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf to file a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona supporting the lawsuit filed by civil rights organizations challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s recent immigration statute.

Our areas of pro bono practice include:

  • Housing
  • Civil rights
  • Education
  • Criminal trials and appeals
  • Entertainment and the arts
  • Family law and domestic violence
  • Immigration and asylum
  • Not-for-profit and small business advice
  • Voting rights
  • Animal rights

Recent Matters  

Challenging Various State Immigration Statutes

The Government of Mexico tapped Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf to file a brief in several federal courts across the country, supporting the lawsuit filed by groups of civil rights organizations challenging the constitutionality of state enactments of immigration bills that in several cases run counter to federal immigration policy.

For instance, in a recent decision dated June 27, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted a preliminary injunction against controversial sections of a Georgia state bill dealing with immigration, HB 87. There, the Court ruled that immigration policy falls under federal jurisdiction and that the contested sections are likely preempted by federal law. In the opinion, Judge Thomas W. Thrash directly mentioned the amicus brief filed by Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf on behalf of the Government of Mexico, who argued that HB87 would “impede bilateral negotiations, hinder trade and tourism, and damage diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexico.” Judge Thrash stated that Mexico’s arguments underscore the direct and immediate “conflict between HB87 and federal immigration law.”

On Mexico’s behalf, the firm has also filed amicus briefs in the Districts of Utah, Arizona and the Ninth Circuit. Ultimately, the District Court of Utah issued a temporary restraining order against the state’s immigration law and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the preliminary injunction against Arizona’s law. In its opinion, the Circuit Court emphasized the importance of Mexico’s amicus brief in aiding in its “decision-making in this case insofar as they demonstrate the factual effects of Arizona’s law on U.S. foreign affairs, an issue that the Supreme Court has directed [the Court] to consider in preemption cases.”

Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf’s successful representation of the Government of Mexico in these matters highlights the firm’s increasing presence and prominence in the area of immigration. As more states enact laws similar to HB87, Mexico has a vested interest in actively opposing their implementation and enforcement, and the firm will continue to represent the Government of Mexico in their efforts.

Back to top

Advocating Against Unlawful Home Raids of Immigrants

We are serving as co-counsel with the LatinoJustice on a case challenging the constitutionality of home raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The matter, which is the largest in our firm’s history, involves a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of several Latino families against ICE, charging that its armed agents unlawfully entered and searched the homes of Latinos in the lower Manhattan area without judicially issued warrants or other legal justification. The lawsuit claims that the home raids trample Fourth Amendment rights and negatively impact US citizens, legal permanent residents and other members of our society. For it’s on-going efforts in this matter, the firm was recognized by LatinoJustice (formerly known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, or PRLDEF) and received its 2008 Pro Bono Publico Award.
Read more

Back to top

Advising Disaster Relief Groups in London and Moscow

When communities around the world are forced to cope with disasters and conflicts, Merlin, a charitable organization based in London, sends doctors and nurses to help provide medical relief on the spot – often under high risk circumstances. The group, which was started in a spare bedroom in London in 1993, has provided medical resources in over 39 countries, responding to some of the world’s most pressing problems, including genocide in Rwanda, Darfur and the earthquake in Haiti. Lawyers in Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf’s London office have represented Merlin on various corporate, employment and regulatory issues.

Meanwhile, our Moscow lawyers have assisted another disaster relief organization. The summer of 2010 brought disaster to Central Russia by way of several hundred fires that broke out due to record high temperatures and drought. The fires claimed approximately 50,000 lives, and some sources estimate $15 billion in damages. In response to the fires, Elizaveta Glinka, a doctor and popular Russian blogger, founded Spravedlivaya Pomosh (Fair Aid), a small charitable group that has supported hospice facilities and provided medical care to the homeless. When the fires erupted last summer, Ms. Glinka used her blog to spark a donation campaign to those who were desperately in need of food and supplies. It worked, and as a result, the organization needed legal advice as to its charter and regarding donation agreements. Our team assisted Spravedlivaya Pomosh with these agreements so that the organization’s volunteers could help deliver tons of resources and a significant amount of money to villages suffering from fires.

Back to top

Protecting the Rights of A Domestic Violence Victim

We represented a young Honduran man, Mr. M., wit his U-Visa petition. The U-Visa is a relatively new tool that law enforcement agencies can use to help combat crime in the illegal immigrant community. In return for their cooperation during the investigation and prosecution of certain crimes, victims can gain temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States, which can eventually lead to their permanent legal residency. In Mr. M’s case, he immigrated to the United States in 2005 and has been living in Massachusetts ever since. Mr. M is a good father and supports his family by landscaping in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter. Last year, Mr. M was stabbed in the back during a bar fight that he was not otherwise involved in. He agreed to assist the police in their investigation, and in return, the police certified Mr. M’s cooperation. Thereafter, he was referred to attorneys in the Boston office of Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf who guided him through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services “U-Visa Petition” process, which resulted in an approval of his temporary legal status and work eligibility. Mr. M can now find better paying and safer work, is on track to apply for his permanent legal residency and plans to travel home to Honduras to see his parents.

Back to top

Advocating for a Holocaust Victim

A team of the firm’s attorneys in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. have been advocating on behalf of Holocaust victims so that they receive payments from the German social security agency. The effort is a nationwide project called ZRBG, which is sponsored by Bet Tzedek, a public interest group based in Los Angeles. One of our clients recounted in his interview that, while many decades have passed since his time in the ghetto, the wounds of the war years remain very fresh – including his escape from a concentration camp and time spent in hiding in a forest. Due to our efforts, we received an official statement of benefits less than two weeks after we sent the application materials indicating that our client will be receiving a back-pension of over 21,000 Euros.

Back to top

Drafting New Adoption Laws in Kazakhstan

An estimated 46,000 children in Kazakhstan live without parental care, and 35,000 of them have parents who are alive. Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf’s Almaty office has been working to help introduce several key amendments to the draft Kazakhstan Family Code in an effort to help combat this problem.

The goal of the amendments is to improve the child adoption procedure by making it more straightforward and transparent. The required language was drafted based on various best international practice precedents, which was collected with help from lawyers in our London, New York and Moscow offices. The language was then analyzed and presented as a draft amendment within the Kazakhstan Charity’s NGO Association.

Attorneys in the Almaty office personally met with the ad hoc working group comprised of the members of the Kazakhstan Parliament. The proposed draft language was supported by the lower chamber of the Parliament, and it is now included in the draft Family Code, which is pending final approval by the upper chamber of the Parliament to become a law. Our legal team has been working with the Kazakhstan Charity NGO’s Association through the Dara Charity Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports pediatric medical institutions, organizations for orphans and children with disabilities.

Back to top

Protecting Voting Rights in a High Profile Litigation

Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf is scored a signficant victory for voting rights. The firm is co-counseling with Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, intervening on behalf of our client in a high profile case brought by Shelby County, Alabama. The County is a mostly white suburban county near Birmingham and has been identified in the past by the DOJ for a number of discriminatory voting practices that would have diluted minority voting strength. The County sought to declare key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 facially unconstitutional, and as a result, it argued that Congress did not have the authority in 2006 to reauthorize these provisions for another 25 years. Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided in favor of our client, upholding the constitutionality of the Act’s key provision.

Back to top

Advising DonorsChoose.org

Our firm has helped dozens of not-for-profit organizations get started, beginning with their incorporation and tax exemption applications. When a Bronx high school teacher wanted to start a website that would match teachers in under-resourced schools with potential donors, we helped form DonorsChoose.org and have been serving as its pro bono counsel ever since. We have advised DonorsChoose on various corporate, intellectual property, real estate and tax issues.

Since its inception in the summer of 2000, DonorsChoose has raised more than $22.5 million for projects to benefit over half a million public school children. It was recognized as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator; has been written up in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week and Newsweek; and was featured on media outlets, including CNN, the Today Show and ABC World News Tonight.

Back to top

Scoring A Significant Victory for an Asylum Petitioner

Ms. R is a young woman who was physically, verbally and sexually abused by her former live-in partner in Guatemala. Even after she managed to escape the confines of her partner’s home, he continued to threaten her and the child they had together. In a society where violence against women occurs with almost total impunity, Ms. R was unable to obtain any government protection from her partner’s abuse. Eventually she decided the only way to save her life was to flee the country. She reluctantly left her one-year old daughter in her parents’ care and started the long journey that led her to San Francisco. Last year Ms. R found the courage to face her past and sought the advice of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area, and she was advised that she may have a claim for asylum. Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf agreed to take on her case and successfully obtained asylum for this warm-hearted woman. It was a relief for all involved that she would never have to return to Guatemala where she would face possible death at the hands of her ex-partner. Ms. R is optimistic about this new beginning in the U.S. She currently lives with her loving spouse and their two children, but she anxiously awaits the reunion with her first born who will soon be permitted to join her in the U.S.

Back to top

Standing Up for Low-Income Tenants

The firm is representing three members of the Lirtsman family, all of whom live in the same building in Midwood, Brooklyn, each in separate apartments. The Lirtsmans were sued by their landlord for $750k for allegedly bringing bedbugs into the building, an allegation that was completely unfounded. During the course of defending that action, we learned that two of the Lirtsmans had received Section 8 vouchers (a low income housing subsidy), which the landlord illegally refused to accept. We brought two separate actions to compel the landlord to take the vouchers, after which the landlord filed a retaliatory eviction proceeding against one of the Lirtsmans. Ultimately, the landlord, admitting the lack of merit in the bedbug case and acknowledging the meritorious nature of the Section 8 cases, agreed to settle all four cases by accepting both Section 8 vouchers and giving the Lirtsmans $51,000.

Back to top

Counseling Teach for America

Teach For America has chosen Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf as its external pro bono counsel. Teach For America is a not-for-profit organization that attracts a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity. The firm handles corporate, tax, information technology and intellectual property matters for Teach For America. We have also helped launch its global effort, Teach For All, advising our client on complex tax issues and making sure it is able to do business in various regions around the world.

Back to top

Helping a Pro Se Bankruptcy Petitioner

We represented an individual bankruptcy debtor who filed for bankruptcy under chapter 7 to escape his creditors’ harassment, but did not realize that two lawsuits for injuries he suffered pre-bankruptcy would become property of his bankruptcy estate and under the control of his chapter 7 trustee. Because of this misunderstanding, and prior to our retention, he had filed a pro se motion to have his case dismissed so he could regain control of his two personal injury lawsuits. The trustee opposed the dismissal. At that point, the bankruptcy judge urged the debtor to seek pro bono counsel. Through a referral from the New York City Bar bankruptcy assistance program, we volunteered to represent the debtor.

We counseled our client on the advantages and disadvantages of staying in bankruptcy and, at his direction, prepared a motion requesting the court dismiss his case, or in the alternative, suspend all proceedings for a short period of time to enable us to craft a bankruptcy strategy that might allow him to regain control of his personal injury lawsuits (for example, by converting his bankruptcy case to a case under chapter 11).

However, after discussions with the trustee, the trustee decided to abandon the personal injury lawsuits, which enabled our client to both regain control of the lawsuits – his overriding concern – while also gaining a general bankruptcy debt discharge of his non-student loans debts. (Student loan debt is not automatically discharged by bankruptcy.) The trustee’s abandonment decision was based on his conclusion that the lawsuits have little merit. Our client, in turn, believes the cases are meritorious and that he will at some point enjoy a substantial recovery. This difference of opinion on the merits of the lawsuits was a major reason for the client initially wanting to dismiss his bankruptcy case and not leave control of the personal injury suits in the hands of the trustee. Our client will not have to use any recovery from the abandoned cases to pay his creditors on account of the discharged debt, a result he would not have obtained had he succeeded in having his case dismissed.

Back to top