Sanctuary for Families’ Pro Bono Project has the honor of working with hundreds of extremely dedicated and expert pro bono attorneys per year. As part of our new Pro Bono Spotlight, we’ll be highlighting some of the great work done by Sanctuary pro bono attorneys!
*Please note that this blog contains descriptions of physical and sexual abuse that could be triggering*
Few could rival Tushna Gamadia’s dedication and generosity in providing her time, brilliant advocacy, and support to survivors of gender-based violence. Tushna, Of Counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP for almost ten years and former associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP for eleven years, has been contributing to Sanctuary’s mission for an astounding sixteen years. During this time, Tushna’s representation of survivors has truly run the gamut, from uncontested divorces to name changes to an array of immigration matters such as asylum, SIJS, U-visas, VAWA self-petitions, and adjustment of status cases. Simultaneously, she has been a long-time member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council (PBC), an ardent supporter of Sanctuary’s holiday Adopt-a-Family and gift card programs, as well as a steadfast volunteer at Sanctuary’s annual Above & Beyond Awards ceremony and Zero Tolerance benefit. Tushna has consistently answered the call to action to support Sanctuary and survivors of gender-based violence in whatever way she can. It is our pleasure to highlight Tushna for this month’s Pro Bono Spotlight.
In her non-pro bono work, Tushna is a real estate lawyer who notes that her favorite part of work is spending all day interacting with people—be it clients, colleagues, or nonprofit service providers.
“I have always believed there should be equal justice and access to the law for everyone, not just if you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford a lawyer. That is part of the reason I became a lawyer in the first place.”
On why she works with survivors of gender-based violence, Tushna explains, “I have been so inspired by my pro bono clients. They have such courage; they refuse to give up despite having been through so much, literally through hell and back oftentimes. They keep believing that if they just persist and work at it they can make a better life for themselves and for their children. I want to work with people like that, whom I learn from and whom I consider role models.” Tushna notes that despite frequent language barriers, trauma, and the stress of juggling childcare with making a living, her clients have always been gracious, found ways of communicating effectively, and shared with her their senses of humor and their stories.
In one memorable case, Tushna represented a teenage girl in her Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) proceeding and witnessed her client recount the years of abuse and neglect she had experienced to the judge. Tushna recalls how stoic and steadfast this young client had been throughout the preparation of the case, but how she finally broke down for the first time during trial when faced with compassion from the judge. Despite everything she had endured, she was determined to go to college, get a job, have an apartment, and live an independent and fulfilled life. According to Tushna, it was one of the happiest moments of her life when the judge in Bronx Family Court granted the client’s petition and issued an Order finding her eligible for SIJS and appointing her former stepmother her guardian. Based on those findings, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service granted the client permanent residence and she was able to remain in the U.S. and achieve her goal of graduating from college..
Incredibly, Tushna’s work with Sanctuary is not the only pro bono work she does. Pre-pandemic, Tushna was a regular participant in the New York City Family Court Volunteer Lawyer Program since 2014, helping pro se litigants understand their cases and advising them on their next steps, and during the height of the Covid crisis, Tushna led Morrison Foerster’s Real Estate Group’s participation in the Small Business Legal Relief Alliance, counseling clients primarily on their rights and obligations under their leases and how to negotiate with their landlords.
Says Jennifer Brown, Senior Pro Bono Counsel at Morrison Foerster, “The breadth of Tushna’s concerns and commitments was vividly illustrated when she won MoFo’s firmwide pro bono award in 2020—an award which is given to only one attorney per year. The award includes directing a $10,000 donation from our firm’s foundation and Tushna asked that the funds be shared by four organizations, including Sanctuary.”
“It has been my absolute privilege to work with and get to know Tushna during my time at Sanctuary. I am frequently inspired by the depth of her compassion and the amazing, trauma-informed lawyering she provides to our clients. And she’s just generally a kind and wonderful person to know!”
Director, Sanctuary for Families’ Pro Bono Program
In her free time, Tushna enjoys taking long walks with her dogs, being out on the water and outdoors generally, and reading and cooking.
We are so grateful to Tushna for her incredible work on behalf of survivors.
Join Tushna in standing with our clients. Your gift supports Sanctuary’s life-saving work with survivors of gender violence.