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Las Vegas lawyers honored for their help for Holocaust survivors (8/21/2009)

Lawyers honored for their help for Holocaust survivors

By Buck Wargo

Friday, Aug. 21, 2009 

Twenty Las Vegas attorneys have been recognized by the American Bar Association for participating in a pro bono project to help Holocaust survivors obtain reparation from the German government.

The attorneys worked with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada for the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, a national coalition of attorneys, legal professionals and social service agencies that support survivors with paperwork to claim reparations.

The bar gave the group its Pro Bono Publico Award, its highest recognition for pro bono legal work. Nearly 35 cities in the U.S., Canada and Australia participated.

The network was established after the German government created a program in 2007 to compensate survivors who labored in Nazi-controlled ghettos during World War II. Survivors are eligible for a one-time payment of about $2,800, says Mitchell Kamin, president and CEO of Bet Tzedek, a national public interest law firm that helped launch the project.

The network interviewed about 5,000 survivors and filed about 3,000 claims worth $8 million in reparation, Kamin says.

Kate Lowenhar-Fisher of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, calls her involvement one of the most rewarding experiences in her legal career. Lowenhar-Fisher says she worked with an elderly Las Vegas couple in their 80s and 90s — one who worked in the ghetto and the other who was an Auschwitz survivor.

“Offering support and listening to their experiences has been an emotional, deeply moving experience.” Lowenhar-Fisher says.

The survivors needed legal assistance because it can be daunting to fill out the applications, Lowenhar-Fisher says. The program, which fills in the gap of other reparation programs that have ceased, was geared to those who worked in ghettos, she says.

Las Vegas attorney Malik Ahmad says it was a rewarding experience to help a Las Vegas man who worked for the Nazis as a mechanic in Poland. Ahmad said he volunteered shortly after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust never happened.

“Somebody came to my office who was living proof that it had happened,” Ahmad says. “It was a good learning experience. I am glad I participated to help someone in this.”

Other attorneys with the project are Emily Gubler Clark and Caryn Tigselling of Lewis and Roca; Rena Hughes of Hoskin Hughes Pifer; Chen Min “Jack” Juan of Marquis & Aurbach; Jake Kelsey of Barker Washburn; Rebecca Kinney, Rebecca Miltenberger, Adam Segal and Elayna Youchah of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; Akke Levin of Morris Peterson; Royi Moas of Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin; Andrew Moore and Jordan Pinjuv of Greenburg Traurig; Patrick Murch and Joe Schrage of McDonald Carano Wilson; Lenard Schwartzer of Schwartzer & McPherson; Randa Reiff Shea of Patton, Shea & Kiraly, and Adam Smith of Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro.

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