News and Information
April 28, 2016

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg Named VSB Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center's Immigrant Advocacy Center, has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Virginia Legal Aid Award by the Virginia State Bar’s Access to Legal Services Committee. Sandoval-Moshenberg specializes in consumer, housing, and employment litigation in federal and state court.

Sandoval-Moshenberg was nominated by Mary Bauer of the Legal Aid Justice Center and seconded by Christine Lockhart Poarch of Poarch Law. Poarch wrote of Sandoval-Moshenberg, “We often use the word leader to denote individuals in positions of formal authority.  But Simon is a leader in the truest sense—someone with the skills, commitment, desire and capacity to change hearts, minds and values within the context of immigration advocacy.”

During his tenure at the Legal Aid Justice Center, Sandoval-Moshenberg created the Virginia Special Immigrant Juvenile Project (SIJS) that worked to facilitate access to justice for immigrant children in the Commonwealth. “Simon crafted a program that not only meets a critical legal need within Legal Aid Justice Center’s bailiwick, but one that can be replicated in other service areas, in other states, and within other organizations, even those that work with populations other than immigrants,” Poarch wrote.

Other examples of Sandoval-Moshenberg’s commitment to a wide variety of legal aid issues include his development of the “Five Complexes campaign” for landlord-tenant rights, a cleaner’s campaign in employment law, a “zombie debt campaign” to assist with consumer rights, and a legal resistance campaign to the “kiddie rocket docket” that advocates against excessively expeditious proceedings against unrepresented children.

Sandoval-Moshenberg also implemented a litigation and media strategy to assist students who came to the United States as young people to receive in-state tuition that was so successful it was adopted by attorney general Mark Herring without having to be litigated in court, granting these students in-state tuition eligibility.

In nominating Sandoval-Moshenberg, Bauer wrote, “There are a lot of great tenants' rights lawyers, a lot of great consumer protection attorneys, and a lot of great civil rights attorneys in Virginia. But there is only one attorney who is genuinely great at all of these fields.” She continued, “Other non-profit attorneys in Virginia and the District of Columbia frequently look to Simon as an expert and mentor in immigration law, employment law, consumer law, and litigation and trial practice in general.”

Sandoval-Moshenberg is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School, where he was awarded the Munson prize for excellence in clinical practice. Prior to law school, he spent two years in El Salvador and Honduras studying labor practices and human rights issues and helped to create an organization for rural women who labor in maquilas, or export factories.

In his hometown of Alexandria, he organized a community campaign that helped win passage of the first living wage ordinance in Virginia.

The Legal Aid Award recognizes lawyers employed by legal aid societies licensed by the VSB. Recipients are chosen for their advocacy, quality of service, and impact beyond their service area. It will be presented June 17 at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

Updated: Apr 28, 2016