in partnership with
Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Accenture has partnered with Welcome.US and the Welcome Legal Alliance (WLA) to serve Afghan refugees who relocated to the U.S. Accenture’s legal department has applied its expertise, energy, and enthusiasm to the work of Welcome.US and has pioneered new models to scale pro bono representation for Afghan refugees.
Since the beginning of Accenture’s partnership with the Welcome Legal Alliance, more than 240 Accenture pro bono volunteers — including nearly 100 attorneys and an additional 66 legal professionals — have contributed over 1,100 pro bono hours in service of more than 660 Welcome Legal Alliance clients.
Following the withdrawal, over 80,000 Afghan refugees relocated to the U.S., with 90 percent of this population entering the U.S. under humanitarian parole, a two-year temporary status. After arriving in the U.S., the Afghan refugees needed to apply for affirmative asylum to remain in the country. This led to a massive influx of asylum applications entering the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department.
The need to quickly assist so many Afghan refugees with asylum presented an opportunity to reimagine the legal support framework and make pro bono opportunities more accessible to in-house legal teams at a time when demand outstripped pro bono capacity at major law firms.
In response, the Welcome.US coalition to support newcomers seeking refuge was formed, including the creation of the Welcome.us CEO Council, co-led by Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO of Accenture and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google. The Council works to galvanize the private sector and its employees to help newcomers resettle in the U.S.
Additionally, WLA, a collaborative partnership among Welcome.US, the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, Human Rights First, the Immigration Justice Campaign, and VECINA, was created. Strategic advisory support has been provided by the Afghan-American Foundation and Gibson Dunn.
Accenture’s partnership with Welcome.US has supported several new models to scale pro bono legal aid for Afghan refugees. WLA and the Accenture team helped over 600 Afghan applicants through the asylum process.
Together, Accenture and WLA piloted new models of pro bono asylum support designed to help scale up the amount of support available to refugees including streamlining intake processes, legal and staff volunteering and assisting in the completion of legal asylum forms and requirements, working closely with other members of WLA to scale necessary support and target all aspects of the asylum process.
Accenture has shown outstanding commitment to supporting the relatively young WLA and maintaining the partnership by dedicating full-time resources and expertise to help WLA. Accenture collaborated with WLA partners to quickly pilot and scale new models of pro bono asylum support available to newcomers, including:
The commitment also includes engaging Accenture teammates within and outside of the legal department – from Accenture’s U.S. legal team, 47 percent of lawyers and 21 percent of legal staff have participated in the pro bono project – as well as engaging subject matter experts to provide technical assistance and strategic guidance in order to:
Congratulations to Accenture, Welcome.US, and Welcome Legal Alliance for building a scalable pro bono project to respond to dire and immediate needs of Afghan refugees.
About the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), a project of Pro Bono Institute, created the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award to recognize innovative pro bono collaborations of in-house legal departments with law firms and public interest organizations. Pro bono partnerships that include at least one in-house legal department with one or more law firms and/or public interest organizations are eligible. The CPBO Advisory Board selects the award recipients.
The award honors legal departments and the organizations with which they partner in the provision of legal services to those in need. The award recipients are departments, law firms, and public interest organizations that have demonstrated an impact in their community through their partnership project, shown substantial involvement in the project by in-house lawyers, made tangible steps toward sustaining the relationship among the partners, developed innovative substantive or structural approaches in support of the partnership’s effort, and addressed a critical legal need or assisted a particularly vulnerable community or target population.
Over the years, the impact and innovation of the projects supported by the award recipients have been tremendously important both in the projects’ ability to address the legal needs of the communities being served and in the role the partnerships have played in supporting and furthering pro bono work, especially within the in-house community. Through these partnerships, legal departments, law firms, and public interest organizations have devised programs that contribute to the legal profession’s efforts to close the justice gap and that create strong legacies of effective pro bono service.