From now until early May, we’ll be highlighting all the 2014 Pro Bono Award recipients on what inspires them to help those in need. Today we invite you to meet attorneys Kathleen Gasparian and Gary Udashen.
KATHLEEN C. GASPARIAN
Gasparian Immigration, New Orleans, LA
Founding partner of Gasparian Immigration, a firm providing immigration representation to businesses, organizations, and families, Kathleen is committed to helping Central American children living in the New Orleans area. In July 2014, she and her colleagues created PB&J: Pro Bono to find, train, mentor and support attorneys willing to take on cases for immigrant children who have recently crossed the U.S. Southern border and who cannot afford legal services. The project has grown to a network of almost 200 volunteers, including attorneys, interpreters, government workers and judges. In the first round of the project, pro bono counsel was provided to over 60 children.
Is there some sort of bond you have with your community that tells a story of why you do what you do?
“Our community looks out for each other – especially in times of adversity. I am honored to be a New Orleanian, and I am proud of how the community has responded to the children coming to our city. Everyone I come across offers to help in some way. PB&J happened because of all the help and effort that other New Orleanians put into the project.”
GARY A. UDASHEN
Sorrels, Udashen & Anton, Dallas, TX
Gary Udashen, partner at Sorrels, Udashen & Anton, is well known as a criminal appellate specialist and was one of the first lawyers in the State of Texas to be board certified in criminal appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. As President of the Innocence Project of Texas, Gary is dedicated to securing the release of those wrongfully convicted of crimes in Texas and educating the public about the causes and effects of wrongful convictions. In 2014, he helped to obtain the exoneration and dismissal of charges against Rickey Wyatt, who served 27 years in prison for a sexual assault he did not commit. Rickey Wyatt is the tenth wrongfully convicted person Mr. Udashen has helped to exonerate and free from prison.
What inspires you to be an advocate for those wrongly convicted?
“I believe in the American criminal justice system. I also think that the system usually reaches the correct outcome. However it is clear that there are many cases where the system has failed to achieve justice. Being in a position to help to correct the mistakes and injustices that occur in the criminal justice system seems like a natural outgrowth of the work I have done throughout my career.”
Congratulations again to all our 2014 Super Lawyers Pro Bono Award recipients. We invite you to read more about them here and watch for the Pro Bono Super Lawyers Digital Magazine coming out in May!