Today we bid farewell to Judy London, who is stepping down as the directing attorney of Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project after over 20 years at its helm. We are deeply grateful to Judy and know that after a well-deserved break, she will bring her deep knowledge, creativity, and passion to whatever emerges as the next chapter in her bright career advancing the rights of immigrants!
Judy’s nearly 30-year-long career began in response to U.S. foreign policies in Central America, which destabilized the region and forced thousands of Central Americans to seek protection in the United States. She learned asylum law from her colleagues at the Los Angeles-based Central American Resource Center, where she started on the path of training new generations of asylum lawyers that she continues to this day.
At Public Counsel, Judy ushered in a period of sustained and creative growth. When she began her work, she oversaw a project of four staff. Under Judy’s leadership, the project has grown to a team of 26 fearless advocates—including attorneys, social workers, and paraprofessionals—who combine direct service work with advocacy and impact litigation. And the team’s partnership with hundreds of volunteer lawyers has dramatically magnified its reach.
Under Judy’s direction, the project has focused on growing the capacity of the Southern California legal community to provide trauma-informed lawyering to immigrant clients. It has succeeded in creating a right to counsel for detained immigrants with serious mental disabilities, prohibiting the federal government from implementing unlawful and inhumane asylum policies, and ensuring that thousands of immigrant children can access special immigrant juvenile status, a unique remedy for vulnerable children that creates a path to U.S. citizenship.
Judy is most proud of creating a culture in the project dedicated to mentoring and training. Both within and outside of Public Counsel, the team can be found educating legal staff on zealous lawyering and educating immigrants on their rights. Countless immigrants’ rights workers—throughout California and beyond—have passed through the project as staff, volunteers, and clients and have taken with them a commitment to top-notch advocacy.
We are so appreciative of all that Judy has contributed and accomplished, and are grateful that she dedicated over two decades of her life to serving Public Counsel’s clients and working towards a world where all immigrants live with dignity, power, and opportunity. While we are sad to see Judy go, we know that her legacy and ethos will continue on at Public Counsel for years to come.
Congratulations, Judy! We wish you the best.
Moving forward, Mary Tanagho Ross, currently a senior staff attorney in the Immigrants’ Rights Project, will serve as the interim directing attorney for the project while we complete the process of selecting its next leader.