Keller and Heckman's strong tradition of public service is highlighted by the firm's commitment to its pro bono program. Both our attorneys and professional staff view pro bono work as an opportunity to strengthen their communities, gain valuable experience, and enhance their professionalism.
Keller and Heckman's pro bono program strives to improve the quality of life for those at an economic disadvantage through partnerships with public interest organizations in the DC area. For example, members of the firm help staff the District of Columbia Bar Pro Bono Program Advice and Referral Clinic. Each quarter, our attorneys with assistance from our paralegals, and professional staff members provide legal consultations and referrals to residents of Washington's Anacostia neighborhood.
We also assist clients referred to us by the American Association of Retired Persons Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE). LCE provides free legal services and advocacy for Washington, DC residents, age 60 and older. In particular, our lawyers assist LCE clients with wills and other end of life planning, as well as representation in debt collection matters.
Keller and Heckman's pro bono program involves work on a diverse range of matters. Some of the firm's achievements include:
Keller and Heckman attorneys volunteer their time at Catholic Charities Legal Network (CCLN), and regularly to conduct in-person client intake at the Legal Network. Services include a brief interview with prospective clients of CCLN, to determine the scope and extent of potential legal issues. Based on this interview, CCLN then locates an appropriate legal representative to assist clients with their cases. Keller and Heckman was named a 2015 recipient of the John Carroll Society Pro Bono Legal Service Award as a result of the Firm’s participation in this program on October 4, 2015. Click here to read more.
Keller and Heckman attorneys successfully assisted a Ugandan refugee in obtaining asylum in the United States after suffering political persecution in her home country. Jack Richards and Jacki Thompson represented the refugee before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Immigration Court in Baltimore, Maryland. The refugee petitioned for political asylum after physical violence and threats from the Ugandan government. The case was referred from Human Rights First, a non-profit international human rights organization.
Keller and Heckman's Pro Bono Program recently assisted a mother and her 17-year old son in obtaining political asylum in the United States as victims of gang violence in their home country of El Salvador. Azim Chowdhury, a Keller and Heckman associate, represented the two before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Immigration Court in Baltimore, Maryland. The mother and son were claiming political asylum based on a prolonged period in which they faced physical violence and threats of death at the hands of the notorious, internationally known criminal enterprise, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in their homeland of El Salvador. On November 18, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, withdrew their appeal of the Immigration Judge's decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals, making final the ruling and ending the family's uncertainty. Click here to read more.
Keller and Heckman provided pro bono representation to an Irish Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy who sought United States citizenship. When the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) refused to act on the citizenship application, two of our partners filed suit on his behalf against USCIS in federal court in Baltimore. Since citizenship is a prerequisite to obtaining a commission upon graduation from the Naval Academy and, at the time, the client was only two months away from graduating, our attorneys were able to have the matter expedited. Keller and Heckman successfully prosecuted the case and the client was sworn-in as a U.S. citizen by the federal judge who decided the case. The client is currently serving our country as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. President Barack Obama spoke at the graduation and personally congratulated the client on becoming a U.S. citizen.
Keller and Heckman attorneys successfully represented a Vietnam Veteran's appeal over an eight year denial by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of an application for disability benefits. The client's application for disability benefits from a war-related loss of vision was based on a finding by the VA that his condition was not service related. We appealed that finding before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. After Keller and Heckman filed its brief, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to a remand of the matter to the Board of Veterans' Appeals for further medical review and reconsideration–a win for our client.
Keller and Heckman attorneys Daniel C. Rubenstein and Douglas J. Behr successfully completed a nearly two year representation of a pro bono client who had been facing a pending foreclosure of her home. Mr. Rubenstein first met the client and her son at the D.C. Bar Advice and Referral Clinic in February 2011. The client and her son came to the clinic seeking legal assistance after their mortgage company, a major national Bank, refused to accept mortgage payments on the client’s home, following the death of her husband. Mr. Rubenstein and Mr. Behr discovered that the mortgage documents, originally drafted by a settlement company that is no longer in business (the owner is now serving time in federal prison for mortgage fraud), were prepared incorrectly. Specifically, the Deed of Trust omitted the client as a party, resulting in complications when her husband passed away; and shortly after the loan was sold to the Bank. Click here to read more.