Pro bono spotlight: Watching client become citizen 'very moving'

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  • | 12:00 p.m. December 29, 2014
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Vrisidha Pjetri, left, client of pro bono attorney, Shana Loomar, is a new U.S. citizen.
Vrisidha Pjetri, left, client of pro bono attorney, Shana Loomar, is a new U.S. citizen.
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Shana Loomar wanted to learn more about immigration law and provide assistance to a person in need.

She did both by volunteering for the annual Citizenship Day and accepting a pro bono naturalization case.

Her efforts resulted in her client gaining her United States citizenship in September. Here is how Loomar describes this favorable and life-changing outcome.

What were the basic facts of your case?

My client was seeking to naturalize and become an American citizen. She had a medical issue that prevented her from being able to learn new information, including the English language, and pass the requisite civics and language tests. She needed my assistance in preparing her N-400, helping her to secure a medical waiver and accompanying her through the interview process at USCIS.

What were you able to accomplish for your client?

My client was naturalized as an American citizen at the University of North Florida on Sept. 23. I had the opportunity to attend the ceremony and it was a very moving and inspirational experience.

Why was the outcome important to your client?

My client has been living in the United States as a permanent legal resident for many years. She has always wanted to naturalize and had applied to become a citizen a few years before I started handling her case. Her application had been denied and she was devastated. She didn’t think she would ever be able to become an American citizen. I was able to help her achieve this lifelong goal.

Why was the experience important to you? That is, what did you gain from the experience? 

First and foremost, I truly enjoy giving back to the community. Furthermore, I have always had an interest in learning more about immigration law. I have been volunteering at the Florida Coastal School of Law Citizenship Day for the past several years and I decided that I wanted to take the next step and take on a pro bono immigration case from JALA. This case gave me a great introduction to the practice of immigration law and allowed me the opportunity to interact with the local USCIS field office where I accompanied my client to her interview with an immigration officer.

What is the name of your firm? In what areas do you practice?

I am a staff attorney at Edwards & Ragatz. The firm’s practice areas include personal injury, medical malpractice and nursing home litigation.

What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?

Call Kathy Para at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. Pro bono work is a great way to give back to the community and allows you to explore different practice areas in which you might have an interest.

Many training and support resources are available for attorneys willing to consider accepting a pro bono case. There are a variety of pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit. Interested attorneys should contact Kathy Para at [email protected] for more information.



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