Lawyer who became a US citizen after law school now provides pro bono aid to immigrants

pro bono

Lawyer who became a US citizen after law school now provides pro bono aid to immigrants

French Dahlia. Photo by Ricky Sherfield/Real Deal Photos.

Dahlia French has prioritized pro bono throughout her career.

It helps immigrants who qualify for Temporary Protected Status and foreign nationals who need help with their taxes. She mentors other immigration lawyers through the American Immigration Lawyers Association. And over the past year, she has become one of the most active volunteers on ABA Federal Free Legal Answersan online platform that was launched in 2021 and allows indigent immigrants and asylum seekers to ask lawyers questions about their cases.

“I remember logging in and opening the emails for the first time, and there must have been about 25,” says French, who runs his own practice in Lubbock, Texas. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, it’s horrible that there are so many people who need help and don’t realize that there are other resources’.”

French answered more than 100 questions on the FLA’s federal website, according to the Commission on Immigration, which highlighted french for his work at the end of March. While the questions vary, she says they largely focus on family issues, like how a US citizen can get a green card for their spouse or support a nephew who entered the country as an unaccompanied minor. . Others relate to removal procedures or TPS eligibility requirements.

In many cases, adds French, people just need help finding free or low-cost services in their area. It takes him less than 10 minutes to send them this information.

“I like being able to say to people, ‘These are the resources where you have licensed immigration lawyers or [Board of Immigration Appeals] accredited organizations that are there to help you. Do not use anyone who is not authorized. Don’t use someone on a website or in your neighborhood,” French says. “When I submit my answers, I always feel good because I feel like I’ve at least led them in the right direction.”

French – who was born in England, lived in Canada and came to the United States for law school – became interested in immigration law after applying for her own citizenship in the early 1990s. 16, she worked in higher education while maintaining her private practice. She left her last position at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in April 2021 and now focuses solely on complex immigration cases for academics, researchers, and physicians; taxation of non-resident foreigners; and the Federal Health Act.

As she sought more balance in her life, French says she was drawn to Federal FLA because it allows her to continue her pro bono work in a more manageable way. She encourages other lawyers who want to volunteer but don’t think they have the time to get involved as well.

“For me, it’s kind of my chill thing, and almost every day I check in,” French says. “If you’re a lawyer who didn’t want to do much, only had an hour or two to devote to pro bono, definitely go to the site.

“If you are a lawyer who is fluent in Spanish, definitely go to the site and just answer the questions that are in Spanish. That would be a big help because those are the questions that I have to completely avoid.

In addition to immigration questions, volunteer attorneys can answer veterans’ questions about Federal FLA. The ABA also continues to operate its original Free Legal Answers program, which allows income-eligible users in 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands to ask questions of volunteer attorneys about family law, housing, and life. other civil legal issues.

To learn more or register for federal or state programs, visit and select “Lawyer Registration”.

See also: ‘ABA President, Other Leaders Will Volunteer For Free Legal Responses’

Jon J. Epps