Lakshmi Challa, who heads her own four-office immigration law firm, was honored today by the Richmond Bar Association with the John C. Kenny Pro Bono Award for 2012.
Each year, the RBA honors an individual, law firm or organization that demonstrates dedication to the delivery of pro bono services in the Richmond metropolitan area.
Working with the Virginia Poverty Law Center in 2009, Challa established the immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Project. The Project provides pro bono legal assistance to undocumented immigrants who suffer domestic abuse, helping them work toward legal status in the U.S. without relying on their abusers. Challa also has assistance from law students through the Carrico Center for Pro Bono Service at the University of Richmond Law School.
Challa and her staff have dedicated over 1,000 hours of pro bono service to the Project, and have helped more than 50 women remain in the U.S. to work legally to support their families, according to RBA President Tyler Brown, who presented the award to Challa. She also has offered pro bono services to the American Red Cross, and through the Commonwealth Catholic Charities, to assist unaccompanied minors.
Challa accepted the award on behalf of the entire team at Challa Law Offices, and expressed gratitude to other lawyers who taught her there was a difference between “just” being a lawyer, and being called to be an advocate. In particular, Challa cited former First Lady of Virginia, Anne Holton, and her husband, former Gov. Tim Kaine. Challa interned for Holton, who also served as a Richmond Juvenile & Domestic Relations Judge, and she practiced law with Kaine when both were at Mezzullo & McCandlish.
Challa said she was “honored and humbled” by the recognition. She also thanked her colleagues at partner programs, including Susheela Varky at VPLC and Tara Casey at UR Law School.
UR Law School Dean Wendy Perdue, the luncheon speaker, was especially pleased to join in the congratulations for Challa, who is a UR Law alumna.