Vannucci, a longtime leader in the Chicago chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, is a shareholder at the Chicago Law Office of Robert D. Ahlgren and Associates. She represents individuals facing removal in immigration court, persons receiving immigration benefits through family members, and people who have been victims of crimes and violence in their home countries.
Since June, several important administrative decisions—such as victims of domestic and gang violence becoming generally unable to qualify for asylum—have rocked the status quo in immigration law. Even more changes are expected. “We do a lot of client counseling to talk them through what’s really changed, what could change, and how all this can impact their cases,” Vannucci says.
Not everyone who wants to make a difference in immigration law is able to practice in the field full time, but pro bono opportunities abound. Like Vannucci, Lindsay Shake (JD '16), a third-year corporate associate at the Chicago office of the global firm Winston & Strawn LLP, is fluent in Spanish and has a longstanding interest in immigration law.
When the firm, which has a robust pro bono practice, reached out to the Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project and Kids in Need of Defense in Texas, Shake joined a rotating delegation of Winston attorneys headed to the Port Isabel Detention Center for a week at a time. There, she helped prepare detainees for their initial asylum interviews, in which they sought to demonstrate a credible fear of returning to their home countries. She also helped reunify parents who had been separated from their children.
“It was an incredibly rewarding experience, getting to use both legal and language skills to help these individuals navigate the complex immigration process,” says Shake.