Attorney of the Week

Safe Passage, December 13, 2016


Safe Passage is excited to announce that this week’s Attorney of the Week is Sam Koch. And special thank you to Ruthie Abel for her photography of Sam.

It was Sam’s passion for working with children that brought him to Safe Passage—prior to law school Sam taught at an elementary school in Harlem. And in his own words, when it comes to working with kids, “there’s nothing more rewarding”.

When Sam started his pro bono work with us, he had never worked on immigration law before, but now he lists this experience among the most rewarding of his legal career. Entering this process, the recognition of how important his contributions would be to his client’s immigration status made him nervous. However, reflecting on his experience he explained, “the staff at Safe Passage put my fears to rest…Because of their help, [I] felt confident in my ability to advocate for my client, and [I] felt prepared for each court appearance.”

Sam considers this experience a prime example of lawyers’ unique ability to empower others. Looking back, Sam considers that even for him—after having gone to law school, passing the bar, clerking for a judge, and working for a law firm that provides great training—there are rules and procedures underlying our judicial system that he still has difficulty navigating. In his words, he “can’t imagine how scary it would be to try to navigate all that as a non-lawyer or without representation, let alone for a child that just arrived in this country.”

And now, with this experience under his belt, Sam is looking forward to giving back more. He describes his new knowledge of the SIJS process and recognition of his abilities to navigate these legal systems as motivation to keep serving. And after seeing how overloaded Safe Passage’s docket is, how many children out there need help from qualified attorneys, and having such a wonderful experience with his client and her family, he wants to make sure he’s putting his qualifications to good use.

Coming out of this process Sam has something he wants to share with other lawyers thinking of doing pro bono work with Safe Passage: “Don’t worry if, like me, you have no previous experience with immigration law. Safe Passage is there for you! The staff is patient and responsive; they’ll answer all your questions and do whatever it takes to make sure you feel prepared to advocate effectively for your client.”

Thank you Sam, for your hard work and dedication—we look forward to working more with you in the future!