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Pro Bono Spotlight: Anabel Rosa

Anabel Rosa has long held a commitment to giving back through service. “I know what it feels like to be the person who needs help,” describes Anabel. “I know what it feels like to not belong, to not have meaning, to not be able to speak with someone.” Anabel recalls a memory of sitting in the Hall of Languages at Syracuse University, where she completed her undergraduate degree, and looking at her homework, puzzled. Anabel could barely speak English when she came to the United States from Puerto Rico to attend college. She needed help, and someone helped her.

This motivation to give back has driven Anabel to pro bono and community service focused on serving the needs of the Spanish-speaking population in the community. “There is a huge need for legal services in the Hispanic community and not many attorneys who speak Spanish,” she said, also reflecting on the value of being able to connect with immigrant communities over shared experiences. Anabel recently spoke to a group of Latinx students at Campbell Law School.

“The students graduating each year include more and more students who speak Spanish and students of Hispanic descent. It makes me so happy and it is so necessary.”

Over the years, Anabel has helped to organize citizenship clinics that process applications for eligible individuals for free, including those who have resided in the United States for many years but lacked the funds to navigate the application process. Though she is not an immigration attorney, Anabel worked with others to develop the resources necessary to host effective clinics, including recruiting volunteers and identifying experts to provide support. Anabel has also been involved with expunction clinics in Durham, where pro bono volunteers help clients to remove past criminal charges and minor eligible convictions on criminal records to help rebuild their lives. During the pandemic, Anabel’s community work has included disseminating information to ensure Spanish speakers have access to information in response to new needs and changing government policies.

Anabel started her career in the legal profession in New York, where she was first a paralegal before becoming an attorney. She later moved to North Carolina, joining James Scott Farrin in 2010 where she handles personal injury cases, helping people to recover following accidents. Anabel currently serves on the North Carolina Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Committee.

In addition to providing pro bono legal services, Anabel serves on boards and committees addressing community issues. Anabel is a founding member of the Durham Hispanic-Latino Committee, which she chaired for 5 years. In 2018, Anabel was appointed to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. She also recently joined the Board of El Centro and anticipates connecting to other pro bono opportunities through her service there. Anabel further exemplifies leadership and service by serving on the Board of Governors for North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

Anabel said that at times, she may have felt she was unable to engage in pro bono service when juggling family, home, and work commitments. She hopes to encourage others to get their feet wet by setting a goal to identify what they can do and to start with just a few hours.

“I guarantee it will make you feel better than the client who received the services. And you will want to do more.”