A Shearman & Sterling team has earned a 2014 “Commitment to Justice” award from Her Justice, an organization dedicated to providing legal assistance to underserved women in New York City. Associate Christopher Lanzalotto (New York-Litigation) and pro bono specialist Missy Allan were presented with the award at a February 6 ceremony in New York for their work on behalf of a Dominican immigrant to the US.
Lanzalotto and Allan helped the client, a Spanish-speaking mother who is hard of hearing, with a petition to remain legally in the US. The woman had suffered severe abuse at the hands of her husband, and Lanzalotto worked to prepare a VAWA petition on her behalf, with interpreting and translation assistance from Allan. When the client later learned that a deportation order had been issued in absentia to remove her from the country, Lanzalotto succeeded in vacating the order in Immigration Court. After authorities raised questions regarding the client’s VAWA petition, Lanzalotto prepared a persuasive memorandum arguing that they were applying an incorrect standard, and he prevailed.
The client’s petition was ultimately approved, and she now has a green card and the right to live and work in the US. Her legal status also gave her the ability to return to the Dominican Republic to visit her son for the holidays, and the team is now working on her son’s immigration application so that they can be reunited permanently.
Asked by Her Justice for feedback on her experience, the client praised the Shearman & Sterling team’s work, saying, “My lawyer helped me feel better and more secure. Thanks to him, I have no more fears after all I have endured. I was able to go back to my home country and reunite with my loved ones after six years. He is now assisting me to bring my child to be with me here in the United States. My heart will never forget all that he has done for me.”