Each year, HRI honors an individual attorney, a law firm, and a community partner for their contributions to HRI’s clients, who are immigrant survivors of human rights abuses from across the world. This Year’s Angel of Freedom Awards honor Pete Thompson, Associate with Clark Hill; Sidley Austin; and the SMU Psychology Clinic.
“Asylum seekers are the bravest people I’ve ever met,” said Angel of Freedom Honoree Pete Thompson. “They suffer terrible consequences for their beliefs—beliefs in basic freedoms that I take for granted every day. I am in awe of their terrific sacrifices. They’ve fought for so long, and they deserve to have somebody fight for them. It’s an extraordinary privilege to represent them.”
Over the past 20 years, HRI has provided legal and critical social services for asylum seekers fleeing human rights abuses, unaccompanied immigrant children, and survivors of serious crimes who qualify for status under the Violence Against Women Act and U visa programs.
“Working with HRI is one of the most rewarding things I have done as an attorney, and I urge all who are able to volunteer their time (and if not time, funds) to help them,” said David Sillers, Counsel with Sidley Austin. “These clients are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and our country gives them a unique opportunity to help them live in peace and security. There are few higher callings than to use your skills to obtain life changing results for those eligible under our asylum laws.”
HRI is a volunteer-powered operation. During the last fiscal year, HRI served its over 600 clients with the help of 310 pro bono attorneys and 104 non-attorney volunteers, who collectively donated over 9,000 hours, valued at approximately $2.8 million.
“The SMU Psychology Clinic is the first clinical setting in which our doctoral students begin their professional development,” said Dr. Naomi Tabak, Director of the SMU Psychology Clinic. “Volunteering with HRI has provided an opportunity to apply our profession’s ethical principles, which include justice and respect for people’s rights and dignity, during the earliest stages of training. Our students consistently report that it is one of the more personally fulfilling and inspiring aspects of training, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration.”
About Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
For the past 20 years, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas has provided legal and critical social services for immigrant survivors of human rights abuses from all over the world. For more information, visit www.hrionline.org.
About Pete Thompson
Pete Thompson is an Associate with Clark Hill. Pete has a great passion for working with people seeking asylum in this country, and his clients through HRI have changed his life forever. Pete maintains an active school/employment law practice, assisting clients on compliance with the Public Information Act, Open Meetings Act, FERPA, employee grievance processes, EEOC complaints, Title VII and Title IX Requirements, litigation, and contract review. Pete also maintains an environmental practice assisting clients with CERCLA, CAA, and public water system compliance. For more information, visit www.clarkhill.com/people/peter-r-thompson.
About Clark Hill
Clark Hill is an international law firm with multidisciplinary practices that draw on its attorneys’ industry and policy knowledge, deeply held shared values, and global network of premier firms and advisors to provide innovative legal solutions and client service excellence worldwide. As one of the largest law firms in the United States with more than 650 attorneys and professionals in 23 offices across the nation, as well as offices in Dublin and Mexico City, Clark Hill is everywhere its clients require high quality legal representation. For more information, visit www.clarkhill.com.
About Sidley Austin
More than 150 years after the founding of the firm, Sidley today comprises a diverse group of legal professionals from many cultures who are dedicated to teamwork, collaboration and superior client service. Forging enduring relationships with the business community, while remaining attuned to the dynamic legal landscape, Sidley understands and works to fulfill the needs of its global clients. Since its founding, Sidley has cultivated a tradition of, and commitment to, pro bono service. As it has grown, so has the reach of its pro bono efforts. From Alabama to Arizona, Colombia to Madagascar, Sidley lawyers and staff devote more than 100,000 hours annually to serving those most in need.
About SMU Psychology Clinic
The SMU Psychology Clinic provides high quality, affordable psychological/psychoeducational testing and psychotherapy for children over the age of five, adolescents, and adults. Offering therapy services on a sliding scale and assessment services at a discounted rate, enables the clinic to serve individuals and families in the community who might not otherwise be able to receive these services. Additionally, the clinic allows doctoral students an opportunity to train in a diverse professional environment while receiving supervision from licensed clinical psychologists.