Virginia, US

Casa Cornelia Law Center’s “Law Firm of the Year”

Global immigration law firm Fragomen has been named “Law Firm of the Year” by Casa Cornelia Law Center, a San Diego nonprofit that provides legal assistance to victims of human and civil rights violations. 

“We are grateful for Fragomen’s help in ensuring justice for Casa Cornelia clients. The firm has helped provide safety for asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence, and abused and abandoned children,” said CCLC Executive Director Carmen M. Chavez, Esq. “Fragomen attorneys and paralegals have conducted in-depth legal screenings, provided direct representation in defensive asylum cases, represented unaccompanied children in court and assisted them with petitions for relief. In addition, the firm supports Casa Cornelia’s mission financially and advocates for us in the local community.” 

The firm was recognized for providing pro bono legal legal services to Casa Cornelia’s indigent clients, who have come to the United States from Mexico, Latin America, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq, China, and other countries around the world. Much of the firm’s work for Casa Cornelia involves asylum cases, U visa, and VAWA cases under the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), with Fragomen attorneys assisting indigent victims of persecution, domestic violence or other crimes who are protected under the U.S. immigration laws. 

“Helping the communities where we do business and providing pro bono services to people in need are core elements of the Fragomen culture,” said Gary Perl, managing partner of Fragomen’s San Diego office. “And people going through the complex asylum process – many of whom have already been traumatized – really need professional representation. Numerous studies have shown that those without legal counsel have a very small chance of success. ” 

Fragomen’s honor is one of three major “La Mancha” awards bestowed by the nonprofit. Marcela Mendez of Qualcomm Incorporated has been named “Attorney of the Year,” while three groups devoted to fighting human trafficking will jointly receive the organization’s Humanitarian Award. Casa Cornelia is also honoring 10 individual attorneys for their pro bono efforts, along with 10 additional non-lawyer volunteers. All of the honorees will be recognized at the organization’s Seventh Annual La Mancha Awards reception to be held October 15 at the University of San Diego.

Teodora Purcell, an associate in Fragomen’s San Diego office, has served as the firm’s pro bono coordinator with Casa Cornelia Law Center and is an invited member of its Inn of Court Bencher’s Committee. She received the organization’s Pro Bono Publico Award in 2011 

“The cases we handle tend to be legally complex, time-intensive and difficult to prove,” said Ms. Purcell. “Although such cases can be heartbreaking, they are very rewarding. It’s satisfying to know we are truly helping people in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.” 

Ms. Purcell also received the California State Bar Association’s Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal services in 2011 and 2013. Mr. Perl received the same award in 2013.