Shondell A. Griffith, Esq.
Formerly of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP
“I want to express my gratitude to my client who reminded me of how similar we all are—that the difference between attorney and client can be determined by something as simple as a twist of fate.”
Shondell, a former litigation associate at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP, provided invaluable assistance to inMotion clients over the past several years. One client, Maria, an undocumented immigrant and abused mother of a young child, came to inMotion seeking immigration assistance.
Maria had fallen in love with, and married, an American man. When he became addicted to alcohol and drugs, however, he began to terrorize her and their son with his violent outbursts. Eventually, he isolated Maria from her friends and family. It was only through the intervention of an elderly, caring neighbor that Maria summoned the courage to leave her husband.
Shondell, and a team of three hard-working summer associates, volunteered to represent Maria in petitioning for permanent residency under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA protections allow battered immigrant women to apply for legal residency on their own without the involvement of their abusive spouses.
It took several meetings before Maria felt comfortable telling her legal team the intimate details of her marriage. After a level of trust had been established, however, Shondell and the summer associates carefully developed Maria’s affidavit and the affidavits of several of Maria’s friends, including one of her elderly neighbors, to document in detail the abuse she had suffered. The legal team also gathered photos—early ones from Maria’s wedding and later ones of Maria’s bruised face.
Through their experience, Shondell and Maria gained great mutual respect and admiration for one another. Shondell stated, “When I first met Maria, it occurred to me how similar we were. We were both young, professional women of South American decent who left our immediate families at the same time to search of better opportunities in New York City. However, over the preceding year, our lives have unfolded in very different ways.”
Six months after Maria’s self-petition was filed, Maria secured approval of her VAWA application for permanent residency. Shondell then prepared Maria for, and represented her at, her final adjustment interview.
Maria successfully gained her green card. And Shondell recently received an inMotion Commitment to Justice Award for her incisive problem-solving and leadership on this case.
Note: All clients' names and personal details have been changed to protect their identities.