Amy Yarbrough, Staff Writer
A teen whose father was assassinated before he was born and who was abandoned by his mother, who ended up being beaten twice by members of a gang he refused to join. A 15-year-old whose father punished his family by withholding food, then left them altogether.
Teodora Manolova helped these and four other vulnerable children from Central America stay in the United States legally in 2015 and gave them something equally important: a sense of security.
A partner at Goodwin Proctor LLP, Manolova volunteered more than 300 hours helping secure legal guardians for the children and obtaining Special Immigration Juvenile status so they could stay in the U.S.
In the process, Manolova conquered trust, language and cultural barriers to help the children. At times, just finding an old address in their home country proved a herculean task. She is one of nine individuals, firms and programs that were honored with President’s Pro Bono Service Awards on Sept. 30 during the State Bar’s Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Here is a little more information about Manolova and the other outstanding award recipients.
Individual from a law firm
Manolova, who has been working on guardianship and children’s rights matters since 2006 also devoted 175 hours in 2005 to staffing legal clinics and writing a manual for people with HIV/AIDS.
Miguel A. Mexicano, director of representation for the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, which partnered with Bet Tzedek in the court matters, said despite the demands of also being a litigation partner at an international law firm, Manolova “nevertheless answered the call.
“These children were the targets of various forms of violence, both outside their homes and, perhaps more tragically, inside their homes,” Mexicano wrote. “Ms. Manolova’s clients faced constant threats of physical harm and even death at the hands of some of the world’s most vicious gang members.”
Law firm team
Working with the ACLU of Northern California, an eight-attorney team from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Palo Alto office secured a precedent-setting ruling finding Clovis Unified School District’s...