Press Release

Casa Cornelia Law Center’s 2020 Virtual La Mancha Awards Will Honor Outstanding Pro Bono Legal Volunteer Awardees


Exciting virtual awards program to celebrate legal community’s commitment to serving victims of human and civil rights violations

SAN DIEGO (September 23, 2020)Casa Cornelia Law Center (Casa Cornelia) is proud to present the 13th Annual La Mancha Awards in a virtual format to recognize exceptional volunteers who help further the organization’s mission to provide access to justice and quality pro bono legal services for vulnerable groups, including unaccompanied children, individuals seeking asylum, and victims of crime who are served by the organization. On October 15th, Casa Cornelia will be honoring awardees in the following categories: Distinguished Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award, Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award, Pro Bono Publico Awards, and Special Recognition Awards.  The Presenting Sponsor of the 13th Annual La Mancha Awards is Price Philanthropies.

“It is truly inspiring to witness the passion and zeal that our generous pro bono volunteers have for serving our clients, each of whom has survived hardship and fled violence or persecution, within our immigrant community,” said Casa Cornelia Executive Director Carmen Chavez. “It is because of our incredible volunteers that Casa Cornelia is able to impact and touch the lives of so many from all over the world, most of whom have undergone traumatic life experiences and are desperately seeking a second opportunity in life.”

The 2020 distinguished awardees include:

Distinguished Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Jeff Sheriff 
Based in San Diego, Sheriff currently serves as an Associate Attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, where he practices intellectual property law. With more than 10 years of engineering experience, Sheriff advises clients on patentability, patent strategy, patent portfolio development and patent infringement. In the last two years, Sheriff has dedicated roughly 350 hours of pro bono legal service by taking cases through the Asylum and Children’s programs.  In 2019, Sheriff was honored as a Pro Bono Publico awardee during Casa Cornelia’s 12th Annual La Mancha Awards by virtue of his dedicated and high-quality work, flexibility, and zealous representation of his clients.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be recognized as Distinguished Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by such an incredible organization like Casa Cornelia,” said Jeff Sheriff. “It brings me great joy to know that I am helping bring light and hope to the lives of vulnerable children and families who have been forcibly displaced in fear of persecution, and I am proud to be a part of this great effort.”

Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year: Latham & Watkins

Latham & Watkins is dedicated to helping clients execute complex corporate and IP transactions, navigate California’s environmental regulations and win precedent-setting litigation victories.

The firm has a strong commitment to pro bono service in the community. In 2019, Latham devoted over 1,200 hours of pro bono legal work to Casa Cornelia’s clients, taking a variety of cases, assisting adult asylum seekers, migrant children, and victims of violent offenses.  Shawn Cobb, who leads the firm's pro bono committee at the San Diego office, recently shared that “there is a very strong public service drive for most of the attorneys [at Latham & Watkins]. Every year, I sit with first year attorneys, coming fresh out of law school, and I tell them that they get one billable hour credit for every hour spent on pro bono.  I make [the firm’s commitment to pro bono] very clear to them from the start, and I think that carries throughout their careers.”

Pro Bono Publico Attorney Awardees*

Austin Day, Cooley LLP
Qiming Deng, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Jonathan DeSimone
Jeanne Detch, Cooley LLP
Elona Dunehew, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP
Jennifer French, Patterson Law Group
Zack Kirscher, DLA Piper LLP
Justin Leisey, Cooley LLP
Paul Najar, Gafcon, Inc.
Edward O’Connor
Stephanie Postal, Latham & Watkins LLP
Sophia Rios, Cooley LLP
Rupa Singh, Niddrie Addams Fuller Singh LL

*This list represents attorneys’ firms at the time of volunteering in 2019

Special Recognition Awardees: This category encompasses interns, Law Clerks, community volunteers, and Volunteer Interpreters and Translators.

Katie Abajian
Kate Anchondo
Holly Araya
Julie Burelle
Francesca Egger
Natalia Gottschalk
Daniel Krupa
Ian Lutz
Annie Milleret
Katie Noe
Elena Perez
Robert Ponce
Samuel Wilson

The La Mancha Awards is named after the literary figure Don Quixote de la Mancha’s spirit and serves as a reminder to supporters and volunteers to dare to dream impossible dreams on behalf of those who cannot.

On October 15, 2020 at 5:30 p.m., Casa Cornelia will be hosting the very first virtual La Mancha Awards in an exciting online format that will recognize standout volunteers, raise awareness about the organization’s mission, and generate proceeds to help fund quality legal programs for communities most at risk. Just last year, Casa Cornelia was able to respond to 2,661 children, women, and men from all over the world seeking critical legal services through the Asylum, Children, and Victims of Crime programs, all of which would not have been possible without the invaluable efforts of our exceptional volunteers and supporters.

Sponsorship information and donation opportunities for the La Mancha Awards are available at or by calling Rosa Mitsumasu at (619) 231-7788 ext. 330.  Free registration to attend the virtual event is available here.

Casa Cornelia Law Center is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm whose mission is to provide quality legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations. Casa Cornelia has a primary commitment to indigent persons within the immigrant community in Southern California. It seeks to educate others regarding the impact of immigration law and policy on the community and the public good.


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