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Fenwick Secures Political Asylum for Client Facing Persecution in Guatemala

Mountain View, CA (March 6, 2017) – Fenwick & West secured political asylum for a pro bono client of the firm—a minor fleeing violence in Guatemala—who suffered persecution and faced future persecution in his home country.

This victory represents one of the eight cases Fenwick has taken on through the Rural Immigrant Connect project established through the leadership of Fenwick-sponsored Equal Justice Works fellow Renée Schomp, a Senior Staff Attorney based at the nonprofit organization OneJustice.

Rural Immigrant Connect uses videoconferencing to connect pro bono lawyers in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley with immigrant clients in California's Central Valley, some of whom have fled violence in Central America and desperately need representation.

“It was a privilege to help our client find safety and a new life in the U.S.,” Schomp said. “The Fenwick team empowered the client to be his own best advocate. We’re thankful for Fenwick’s support on the project as a whole. It’s extremely encouraging to see a firm so dedicated to pro bono work.”

The client experienced persecution in Guatemala and had a well-founded fear of suffering future persecution due to abuse from family members and his membership in an indigenous group not protected by the Guatemalan police.

Fenwick attorneys received the case in April 2016, met with their client several times in person and using videoconferencing, collected evidence, interviewed family members, and assisted the client and family members with their written declarations. They also obtained letters of support from Guatemala, prepared the client for his asylum interview and represented him at the interview. Ultimately, the client was granted asylum in the United States.

The result showcases collaborative, pro bono problem solving. The case was led by Fenwick IP associates Vikram Iyengar and Rajendra Panwar, with guidance from partner Lynn Pasahow. The client came to OneJustice's Rural Immigrant Connect project through a partnership with Emily Abraham, a founding director of Social Justice Collaborative​, which provided expert immigration mentorship to the Fenwick attorneys throughout the course of the client's pro bono case. Social Justice Collaborative is a nonprofit with offices in Oakland and the Central Valley that focuses on deportation defense. Legal research support was provided by the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at U.C. Hastings College of Law.

As a firm, Fenwick places great value on pro bono work. Fenwick’s pro bono program includes civil rights, child advocacy and asylum work, as well as impact litigation.

In the past three years, Fenwick lawyers have logged over 50,000 pro bono hours valued at over $20 million in fees. Last year alone, the firm donated more than 17,000 hours valued at more than $9 million.

About Rural Immigrant Connect
​Rural Immigrant Connect is aimed at forging connections between pro bono attorneys in the Bay Area and immigrants in need from four high priority rural counties. The program designs, prototypes, and iterates the use of technology to secure urban-based pro bono assistance for immigrants living in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, or Fresno counties. OneJustice launched the Rural Immigrant Connect project in 2016 through an Equal Justice Works fellowship sponsored by Fenwick & West.

About Fenwick & West
​Fenwick & West LLP provides comprehensive legal services to ground-breaking technology and life sciences companies – at every stage of their lifecycle – and the investors that partner with them. We craft innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions on issues ranging from venture capital, public offerings, joint ventures, M&A and strategic relationships, to intellectual property, litigation and dispute resolution, taxation, antitrust, and employment and labor law. For more than four decades, Fenwick has helped some of the world's most recognized companies become and remain market leaders. For more information, please visit fen​wick.com​.​​​​​​​​​