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Each year at NIJC’s annual Human Rights Awards, we recognize attorneys who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to ensuring access to justice for immigrants by devoting substantial time to NIJC pro bono work, serving a significant number of NIJC clients, and/or representing clients with complex cases.

We are grateful for the 2,000+ dedicated legal professionals in NIJC's pro bono network who volunteer their time and skills to represent immigrants and asylum seekers and to defend their rights.

At NIJC’s 23rd Annual Human Rights Awards, we will award nine outstanding attorneys with the Rising Star Award. We congratulate them and thank them for their life-changing pro bono work!

Here are the recipients of the 2022 Rising Star Award:

Misha Boutilier
Quinn Emanuel

Headshot of Misha Boutilier

“I am honored by and grateful for the opportunity to work with NIJC as counsel for the plaintiffs in AsylumWorks v. Mayorkas. This lawsuit successfully challenged two related rules issued by the Department of Homeland Security that attempted to deter asylum applications by drastically curtailing asylum seekers’ access to work authorization. These rules seriously harmed the individual plaintiffs we represented and other asylum seekers by undercutting their ability to support themselves and survive while their asylum applications were pending. Being able to contribute to removing these barriers has been the most meaningful experiences of my career. I hope to continue to work with NIJC in the future to support its efforts to ensure access to justice for refugees and asylum seekers.”

Dan Burley
Perkins Coie LLP

Headshot of Dan Burley

“My pro bono asylum work through NIJC has enriched my life personally and professionally. It is an honor to work side-by-side with inspiring and resilient clients to help secure the next chapter in their lives. I am grateful to NIJC for giving me the opportunity and the expertise to do the work that makes me most proud to be a lawyer.”

Dominique Gonzales
DLA Piper

Headshot of Dominique Gonzales

“Working with NIJC captures the essence of what it means to be a lawyer. It is an honor and imperative to take the skills learned in school and built in practice and use them to make a life changing difference for others. The clients NIJC assists are resilient and inspirational, and never fail to remind me of the power of this profession. It is a privilege to work alongside the dedicated and brilliant professionals at NIJC to advance such an incredible cause, and I look forward to working together for years to come!”

Eric Grossmann

 Headshot of Eric Grossmann

“Asylum is a deeply-rooted legal tradition and international human right spanning centuries and across civilizations. To be part of that process today as both a lawyer and LGBT person was intellectually stimulating and meaningful.”

Tassity Johnson
Jenner & Block LLP

Headshot of Tassity Johnson

“I am humbled by the bravery and resilience of my clients and grateful for the opportunity to have helped NIJC in its tireless efforts to bring them to safety.”

Bernardo Lopez
Sidley Austin LLP

Headshot of Bernardo Lopez. Bernardo and a team of lawyers smiling with their client outside of immigration court after winning their case.

“I feel humbled to work for immigrants alongside NIJC. I cannot think of a more important legal mission than the defense of human dignity. For that reason, my work with NIJC has been among the most rewarding of my career. NIJC was instrumental in the success of our client’s asylum case last year. I am thankful to our client for his bravery and diligence and to my teammates.”

Ren Morris
formerly of Proskauer Rose LLP

Headshot of Ren Morris

"Working with NIJC has been an invaluable experience for me both personally and professionally. With the help of countless talented NIJC attorneys, I have had the opportunity and support to take on matters close to my heart that remind me why I went to law school in the first place."

Patrick O’Meara
Winston & Strawn LLP

Headshot of Patrick O'Meara

“My work with NIJC on the Castañon Nava class action has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my career. One reason the settlement we obtained in that case is so important is that it gives our class members—those arrested by ICE without a warrant in violation of immigration law or the Fourth Amendment—remedies they would not otherwise have. It has been great to be a part of something that will have a real and immediate impact on people’s lives, as all of NIJC’s important work does.” 

Caroline “Gizem” Tunca
Perkins Coie LLP

Headshot of Gizem Tunca

“My work with NIJC has affected me in more ways than one. It has made me not only a better lawyer, but a better person. I am constantly inspired by my clients and hard-working NIJC staff. Being affiliated with this organization has been one of the most meaningful experiences I have had in my career.”


Join us in celebrating the Rising Star Award recipients and the other amazing awardees at NIJC's 23rd Annual Human Rights Awards, in person at the Hilton Chicago on June 15th at 12:00 p.m. CT and virtually on June 16th at 4:30 p.m. CT. Get your tickets at!


Julia Toepfer is the senior marketing and digital engagement strategist at NIJC.