Last week was the National Pro Bono Celebration. In honor of that event sponsored by the American Bar Association, we posted stories on lawyers who have stepped up to help at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. In doing that, we got additional ideas sent our way. So this week, we will publish a few more stories about these stand-up lawyers.
Lawyers travel many paths to become someone who offers help to those in need. Often, the gap between legal services and those whose lives depend on it is brought to their attention. In other situations, the lawyer seeks out the gap and plunges in to fill it.
David Krupski is a products liability lawyer at Lewis and Roca in Phoenix. In his day-to-day practice involving pharmaceutical and medical devices, it is safe to say that clients in that industry get top-notch legal service. But even before Krupski launched himself into that practice, he sought to help others.
“I wanted a strong commitment to pro bono,” Krupski says. “And I sought it out in a firm.”
That desire to work at a place with a pro bono commitment took him to Lewis and Roca.
It was two summers ago, Krupski explains, that he took on an asylum case that came from the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. (Though that case is completed, he currently has another pro bono case through the Volunteer Lawyers Program.)
Details of the two-year-old case are still fresh in Krupski’s mind—and for good reason. The facts of his African client’s life and struggle were tragic. They included a father who left the family when the youngster was about 1—and burned the family house to the ground as he left. The boy left home when he was 5 or 6, and was completely on his own since age 8. His life by that point had been marked by deprivation and abuse at the hands of his mother and siblings.
Eventually and a world away, the young man found himself in Arizona a few months shy of his 18th birthday. Krupski filed a petition for asylum for his client, which eventually was granted. Along the way, he had to address a number of issues, including the difficulty of establishing identity.
That issue is always a difficult one, the lawyer says, in cases where the client is a refugee. It was made more difficult by the young age at which his client left home, and the fact that he had absent and uncooperative parents.
Krupski doesn’t hesitate when he’s asked what he took away from the experience.
“It’s about helping people who couldn’t help themselves.”
The Lewis and Roca associate says he very much enjoys his law practice. “But getting the opportunity to help a person who is in a lot of trouble—that is on an entirely different level.”