Jenny Rikoski Honored as “Lawyer of the Year” for Reuniting Families Separated at the Texas Border

Rankings & Awards
January 22, 2019

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly has honored benefits partner Jenny Rikoski as one of its 2018 “Lawyers of the Year,” an annual awards series that recognizes exceptional lawyers.

Since June 2018, Ms. Rikoski has been leading Ropes & Gray’s representation of immigrant children and their parents who were separated at the Texas border as part of the U.S. government’s “zero-tolerance” policy for controlling its borders. The Ropes & Gray Border Initiative team under Ms. Rikoski’s guidance includes more than 100 attorneys and dozens of paralegals, staff and support members. The work involved mobilizing the firm’s network, including attorneys and staff from 10 offices, and even alumni, in-house counsel and professors. With the team’s help, 75 parents and children were reunited and released from detention facilities.

In the article, Ms. Rikoski comments on some of the challenges and obstacles presented by such a large initiative, her strategy for building a network of lawyers to best support clients and the effect of changing policy throughout the process.

“The unfairness of the process deeply troubled me. And I felt that, as lawyers, we could bring order and decency to how these people were treated,” she said.

Ropes & Gray pro bono attorneys have also been working closely with the Texas Civil Rights Project, RAICES, and KIND, non-profit legal organizations who provide invaluable mentoring and support. For more information on our pro bono work, please click here.