Do Ukrainian Refugees Require Pro Bono Legal Support?

Around two million refugees have fled Ukraine to seek asylum in neighboring countries like Poland. President Biden has pledged to bring at least 100,000 of them into the United States — but can probably expect blowback from conservative groups who believe our country already supports far too many immigrants, regardless of whether or not they carry their weight here at home. That’s why these refugees need legal support.

The Weiss law firm put out a statement recently: “Our lawyers worked courageously to protect the Jews of Europe during World War II by changing American policy towards immigration and arranging for tens of thousands of European Jews to secure safe refuge in America. Today, we are closely following the dire situation in Ukraine, and are mobilizing our pro bono resources to work with relief organizations and legal services providers to help those desperately in need.”

The firm pledged to match attorney donations up to $1500 to fund the effort.

Numerous firms closed locations in Russia due to the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, which could complicate their ability to provide legal services to those in need, and also to coordinate relief funds. 

What actions can firms take without going pro bono? First and foremost, stop providing services to Russian citizens, businesses and organizations whether they have been sanctioned or not. Provide a professional exit where possible when services are already being provided. 

Looking for pro bono options? Offer incentives to lawyers who offer their own time to providing legal assistance to Ukrainian citizens. Set up call centers and hotlines or support those already operational. Ask associates for small donations when they cannot give time. More than anything, share relevant information with other firms trying to fight the same battles — because you’re all in this together. Support first responders on the front lines, and be sure they have the legal assistance they need to keep doing their jobs.