Answering the Call: MoFo’s Efforts in the European Refugee Crisis

In 2015 and 2016, more than one million refugees fled their homes and sought safety within the borders of Germany. While some were ambivalent about the influx of newcomers to the country, Morrison & Foerster lawyers in Berlin responded swiftly and with a purpose.

Berlin counsel Julia Schwalm was just one of MoFo’s lawyers who, together, logged a total of 1200 pro bono hours aiding individual refugees and helping nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting the refugee community.

Among their efforts, Julia and other MoFo lawyers in Berlin acted as guardians to minors who arrived in Germany without their parents. For Julia, acting as a guardian was personal.

“It’s not something that the firm would say ‘Who wants to volunteer?’ It’s not as much of an adoption, but it’s close,” says Julia. “They are kids. They are alone. You worry about them.”

Acting as a guardian meant more than just taking care of legal matters for the 16 -year-old Pakistani refugee. In addition to signing documents on her client’s behalf, guardianship also meant taking care of the little things in life, like going to the movies together and making sure he was wearing his seat belt.

For our role advocating on behalf of the European refugee community, Morrison & Foerster was recognized as a winner of the grand prize in citizenship at The American Lawyer’s 2017 Global Legal Awards. Winners were announced on September 25 in New York City.

Read more about Julia and the firm’s pro bono work in response to the European refugee crisis here.