Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP is now Arent Fox. Read the press release

Standout Service Knows No Borders

Sunset over mountains and road
This year, Arent Fox recognizes Partner Richard Webber and Associates Cesar Francia and Karen Van Essen for pro bono work that consistently goes above and beyond with comprehensive, long-term projects and deep dedication.

Arent Fox recognizes Partner Richard Webber for his long-term work  on behalf of the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition. Rick has specialized in representing multiple youth clients on immigration matters to obtain for them Special Juvenile Immigrant Status and permanent residency. These detained children have often already faced the loss of family members, gang violence in their native countries, and victimization during their journey to the US, and then must navigate US law enforcement and legal options. CAIR Coalition has previously honored Rick’s and other Arent Fox attorneys’ work with the Detained Children’s Champion Award for outstanding pro bono service to juvenile detainees.

In 2017, Rick (with help from Bradford Frese) acted as a court- appointed guardian ad litem for a child whose parents each sought sole custody, alleging that the other was unfit; and argued in the Board of Veterans Appeals on behalf of a disabled veteran.

Cesar Francia played a key role in several pro bono matters in 2017, including representing non-citizens in asylum proceedings and in immigration court through the CAIR Coalition, incorporating a 501(c)(3) that assists Syrian refugees in their educational pursuits, and advocating for marriage equality in Latin America.

Cesar also represents Wuilly Arteaga, a young violinist of extraordinary ability from Venezuela, Cesar’s home country, who became a national symbol of resistance in the struggle against Venezuela’s regime when he began performing during the anti-Maduro protests  that  lasted  130  days this past summer. With Cesar’s help, Wuilly is currently in the US seeking immigration relief. For several years, Cesar has worked alongside LGBTQ rights organizations and attorneys in Latin America to secure same sex marriage in the region. Cesar leverages both his legal practice and language abilities to submit legal arguments on behalf of organizations that support same sex marriage. NBC Latino 20, which honors achievers who strive

to make communities and the US a better place while honoring their heritage, featured Cesar’s fight for equality this year. Cesar was also recently appointed to the Human Rights Law Committee of the International Bar Association, as the Latin America Regional Forum Liaison Officer.

Karen Van Essen’s commitment to pro bono service ranges from the local to international level. She was part of an effort to strengthen  the judicial process in Afghanistan via the Public Private Partnership for Afghanistan and also assisted with a short educational film on   the national process and procedures for bench trials. She has also advised on immigration matters in the US, including representing a woman who fled her home country because her husband was violently abusive. The government contested the client’s application and the immigration court held a full hearing where she was granted asylum.

Karen also works on cases involving law enforcement and imprisonment. She serves on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Pro Bono Panel where she reviews cases for appeal. In a recent case, she successfully represented an individual who had brought a civil rights case  against the police for false arrest and imprisonment. She has also assisted with Arent Fox’s matters on behalf of the Clemency Project to seek federal sentencing reductions for eligible prisoners.

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