Brad Smith, Microsoft Corp.’s general counsel and corporate secretary, was honored yesterday at the White House’s “Champions of Change” event for the success of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), an organization that he co-chairs and that provides pro bono representation to unaccompanied children in the U.S. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Mark Childress, senior counselor for the Justice Department’s Access to Justice Initiative, gave Smith and 15 other leaders awards for their exemplary efforts in providing disadvantaged Americans with equal legal services.
KIND lives up to its acronym by providing thousands of children with legal representation in deportation proceedings. Smith co-founded the organization with actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie in 2008. Smith says the concept developed when he set out to expand his original pro bono initiative in Seattle from the local to the national level. He combined his previous efforts with Jolie’s expertise in refugee work to develop a partnership that has made a large impact in a short amount of time.
Smith and Jolie work with more than 120 law firms to take on the cases of more than 8,000 unaccompanied children each year. Under the management of Smith and Jolie, volunteer lawyers represent thousands of children in immigration court who flee to America to escape severe violence and persecution. The combined efforts of these volunteer attorneys have amounted to more than $9 million in pro bono work over the past two and a half years.
Prior to receiving his award yesterday, Smith told InsideCounsel, “I’m not that big on awards, to be honest. I think the only thing that matters is what you are going to do tomorrow, and there is no award for that. [The award] is an opportunity to make more people aware of the work we’re doing, and more helpful then for what we want to do tomorrow.”
Read more about Champions of Change on the White House’s website, beginning Oct. 17.