When you think of airport lawyers, if you ever think of airport lawyers, you might imagine some government attorneys with the FAA, or maybe a highly specialized land use attorney. But, given the hubbub caused by President Trump’s recent travel ban, airport lawyers have taken on a whole new meaning — and prominence. They’re the attorneys who ran to the nation’s airports the weekend after the president signed an executive order limiting immigration and travel from seven majority-Muslim nations. The ones who filed habeas petitions, coordinated with family members, spoke to the media.
Now, a new website created by attorneys and software developers has been launched to connect travelers impacted by the executive order directly with pro bono attorneys looking to help. Its name, of course, is AirportLawyer.org.
Connecting Lawyers With Those Who Need Them
President Trump’s executive order temporarily bars travel and immigration from specified countries and the domestic settlement of refugees generally. Thousands of people were affected when the ban was enacted, with many travelers detained at airports in the initial days after the EO was signed. That order has since been put on hold after Washington State sued, but the legal battle over the continues. The EO’s travel restrictions could be rapidly reimposed if the court’s order is overturned or rescinded.
Airport Lawyer seeks to help anyone affected by the ban, now or in the future, access legal aid if they need it. On the website, users can input information about people subject to the EO traveling to the United States, whether they’re reporting for themselves, family, or friends. Traveler and flight info is then shared with volunteer lawyers at the destination airport. Those lawyers will then try to help if needed, according to the website — though the site notes that it cannot guarantee representation.
The website was started by a team of three lawyers in Seattle: Greg McLawsen, Takao Yamada, and Tahmina Watson. As lawyers streamed to airports after the signing of the EO, McLawsen got a message from a colleague at Clio, the practice management software company, asking how they could help, according to a story by the Washington Post. McLawsen got in touch with Yamada, who is both a lawyer and founder of a tech startup, while Clio put them in touch with the legal software firm Neota Logic. The team worked through the weekend and the site was launched after 48-hours.
Airport Lawyer isn’t the only project working to coordinate the response to the travel ban, however. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Immigration Council, and ABA Center for Innovation recently put together ImmigrationJustice.us. Another rapid collaboration, this website is focused on attorneys looking to help. Attorneys who want to volunteer legal services can enter their information and be looped into response efforts.
It certainly seems like a better way to connect with clients than simply waiving a “free lawyer” sign next to baggage claim.