Name and year of graduation from UNC Law:
Marty Rosenbluth, Class of 2008
Area of practice:
Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Favorite class/professor in law school:
Toss up between RRWA I with Ruth McKinney and RRWA II with Jim Sheridan. I’m a law nerd. I can’t help it.
Pro Bono experience in law school:
My pro bono experience was pretty varied, including working on several immigrant rights related projects and being part of Amnesty International’s observer mission in Northern Israel during the war between Hezbollah and Israel.
What inspired or prompted you to start doing Pro Bono work?
I had been involved in various social justice issues for over two decades before attending law school. I went to law school to add more tools to my tool kit. It was super exciting to be able to put some of these tools to work through doing pro bono work while I was still in law school.
What does your current Pro Bono practice look like?
I recently spent one month volunteering in a family detention center in Texas, working with refugees from Central America, and five weeks in Greece working with refugees from Syria and other countries who were stranded in refugee camps on the island of Lesvos. In both places I was helping refugees, who were fleeing from extreme danger in their own countries, to seek safety and asylum for themselves and their families.
How has your Pro Bono work benefited you? (ie. your career, business development if in private practice, professional development, networking, etc.)?
I think the two benefit each other. I learn a lot in my pro bono work that has helped me in private practice and vice versa. It has also helped with networking. I was offered my current job after volunteering in Greece from a group that heard of my work there. Also, the work itself has huge rewards, being able to help people who are at risk to be able to reach a place where they can be safe is an amazing feeling.
What challenges do you face in completing Pro Bono work? What strategies do you employ to overcome those obstacles?
It definitely adds to the work/life imbalance. Luckily my family is very supportive and patient.
Which Pro Bono experience gave you the most personal or professional pride?
I think my recent experience in Greece was the high point. I was one of the first US licensed attorneys who was able to actually practice in European asylum hearings. It was a rare privilege. There were over 6,000 refugees in the camp I was volunteering in, and only a handful of attorneys and it was clear that our work there made a huge difference.
What is one new thing you learned from Pro Bono work that you would not have known otherwise?
I never would have had the opportunity to work in the European asylum system otherwise. Learning European law has actually helped me understand the strengths and weaknesses of our own system. It was an invaluable experience.
What motivates you to continue doing Pro Bono work?
When I was in undergrad, there was a statue of the school’s founder with a quote from him saying “Be afraid to die until you have won one small victory for humanity.” I am not sure I have gotten there yet.
How do you find your Pro Bono projects?
I am on several immigration law listserves, and it is a very tight knit community. It is an excellent way to learn about pro bono opportunities.
Do you prefer to handle Pro Bono projects on your own or do you like to work with a non-profit or other partner organization? Why?
I definitely prefer working with other attorneys and volunteers. When I was in Greece recently all the attorneys and volunteers were staying in the same hotel and traveling back and forth to the refugee camp together. We also ate meals together and hung out together. The camaraderie made the work much less grueling because we were able to support and help each other.
What is the single best reason you can give a law student to continue Pro Bono service in practice after graduation from law school?
I have a picture on my wall that one of the refugee children I worked with. It is of an airplane leaving the island. When he gave it to me he gave me a hug and thanked me for helping him to leave the refugee camp with his family. Hugs and smiles are worth way more than billable hours.
Posted by James G. Wudel on Wed. November 30, 2016 8:00 AM