Client Spotlight: Law Office of Helen Lawrence
We’re highlighting the work of some our inspiring clients and partners. Read more client spotlights on our blog.
The Law Office of Helen Lawrence is an Oakland-based firm specializing in immigration. In 2009, Mangrove Web Development designed and developed a website to capture the creative, compassionate, and fighting spirit of their dedicated all-female team.
What they do
Helen Lawrence, Bonita Gutierrez, and Gabriela Monico are the trio that make up the Lawrence practice. They offer deportation defense and representation in affirmative immigration processes to the Bay Area’s diverse immigrant population. The practice directly represents families and individuals before immigration courts and agencies, managing over 175 open cases at any given time. Providing low-cost legal services in English, Spanish, and Portuguese is just one aspect of the support the firm extends to immigrants seeking accessible and effective legal representation.
To ensure that indigent immigrants have access to free legal services, the Lawrence team often makes referrals to immigration-focused nonprofit organizations. At the same time, the firm takes on cases referred from local nonprofits that have long waitlists or that cannot take on a particular case due to its complexity. The firm specializes in cases at the complex intersection of immigration and the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The Lawrence practice routinely represents incarcerated people and provides extensive post-release follow-up, even picking up clients released from detention and transporting them to shelters or rehabilitative programs, while juggling paperwork and reviewing cases.
Immigrants have made and continue to make remarkable contributions to our country. The Lawrence firm is reminded on a daily basis of immigrants’ resilience and entrepreneurialism. The Lawrence practice aims to provide holistic representation that goes beyond simply addressing clients’ legal immigration needs, including accessing medical and mental health care, assistance navigating education and job training, among other support. Immigration attorneys must be tapped into the network of local and national social programs to fulfill the wide-ranging spectrum of their clients needs. This extra support can help ensure immigrants continue to make positive contributions to our communities.
Immigration has long been a leading national and international political issue. But the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election has pushed immigration issues to the forefront. In response to the political climate and constant uncertainty their clients face, the Lawrence firm began offering donation-based and free remote naturalization service consultations (learn more here). In the weeks following the presidential transition of power, each of the firm’s staff spent a week in Texas detention centers offering pro bono representation to women and children asylum seekers.
How to help
You can help by donating your time or money to organizations that protect the rights of immigrants. The Law Office of Helen Lawrence recommends donating to the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants Rights Project (ACLU-IRP) or Centro Legal de la Raza, an Oakland-based organization that provides free legal defense services to immigrants facing deportation among other legal services. You can also work or volunteer at organizations focused on immigrant rights. If you speak another language, interpreters are always in demand, as language can be a barrier to timely and accurate representation.
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