The Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) was founded in D.C. in 2000 to educate the Iranian-American community on legal issues and ensure Iranian-American representation in the broader community. The IABA has since grown to become a nationwide organization. This month, the Iranian-American Chamber of Commerce spoke with Dr. Golnoosh Hakimdavar, President of the IABA D.C. Chapter, about how the organization is responding to the needs of the Iranian-American community across the nation, as well as the chapter’s targeted focus on D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
The D.C. chapter achieves its mission through legal accessibility and events that it hosts throughout the year, including networking events. In the chapter’s most recent event, a legal clinic co-sponsored by the Iranian-American Community Center, attendees consulted with volunteer attorneys free of charge. The chapter coordinates with the IABA National Board to provide informational material for the community. In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the IABA released a ‘Know Your Rights’ document to help guide those traveling from countries with COVID-19 level 3 travel warnings, which includes Iran. Following the travel ban, the IABA set up a team at the airport to help those affected by the ban and filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Hawaii’s challenge to the travel ban.
According to Dr. Hakimdavar, the lawyers and members at the center of the organization are “driven by the service-oriented and volunteer nature” of the work. She emphasizes the importance of Iranian-American activism in the legal community. “As a community we have been at the center of many discussions whether they be political, societal…they are also legal and we as an informed group have the responsibility to continue passing on information to our community so they are acting and reacting to situations based on full information,” Dr. Hakimdavar says. By making legal information more accessible to the Iranian-American community in the DMV region, the IABA D.C. chapter hopes that individuals will become more aware of their rights, and how changes in the law impact them.
Community outreach is at the center of the IABA D.C. chapter, and Dr. Hakimdavar encourages individuals to email the IABA D.C. chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or if they feel that there is a matter that needs to be looked into. You can also support the IABA by becoming a member. Please note that you do not need to be a lawyer to do so.
By Nikki Vafai