BOSTON - Attorney Robin Olson Gotshall, formerly of Brant Lake, was honored recently by her law firm, SeyfarthShaw for her significant victory that allowed political asylum for a woman and her daughter from Guinea.
Attorney Gotshall received notice this week from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security that her client's application for political asylum had been granted.
Gotshall said this an incredible moment for the client, who was enslaved in Guinea at age 7 and endured a lifetime of forced labor and physical and emotional abuse.
Gotshall faced a number of significant obstacles in this pro-bono case. The client had missed the one-year filing deadline by several years before the firm agreed to take the case from the organization Political Asylum & Immigration Representation Project, or PAIR.
In addition, two rulings from the federal Board of Immigration Appeals destroyed well-established grounds for asylum upon which Gotshall had hoped to rely, forcing her to craft a new legal argument based on the clients status as a member of the social group of female Guinean domestic workers.
The fact-gathering process for this case proved to be an intense, time- consuming process, Gotshall said, which involved gaining the trust of this fragile client and helping her to recall the painful details of events which began when she was just a child. Gotshall's legal work spanned 15 months and hundreds of hours. Gotshall was able to obtain asylum for the client on her first application, a rare feat in this type of case, especially in light of the obstacles faced and the unprecedented nature of the client's claim.
The client will now be able to remain and work in the U.S., and will be able to spare her three-year-old daughter from the kind of persecution she suffered, Gotshall said.
"This was a life-affirming event for me," Gotshall said. "By far, it was the most important thing I've accomplished in my 10 years of practicing law - It's a gift to be in a position to change someone's life like that."
Gotshall, the daughter of Robert and Jean Olson of Brant Lake, received her law degree from Cornell Law School and currently resides in Pelham, New Hampshire. She and her husband have three sons.