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Pro Bono Spotlight: Joey Polonsky

When you hear “corporate finance lawyer,” you think about boardrooms in high-rises and long hours poring over documents packed with legalese about acquisitions and lending practices. You picture the type of guys on Wall Street. What you don’t picture is someone at the U.S.-Mexico Border visiting an immigration respite center in McAllen, Texas, where summers are sweltering and an average August day is 97°F.

Meet Joey Polonsky. Joey is a corporate finance senior associate at King & Spalding LLP in Charlotte. His firm has partnered with the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, which provides asylum-seeking immigrants in crisis access to basic resources, legal services, and medical assistance. He attributes the opportunity to his firm, “Helping your clients achieve what is right and just is an uphill battle, and I wouldn’t be able to make the difference I have without my colleagues who have always pushed me to advocate for the people who need it most.”

Since 2018, Joey has taken multiple trips to the U.S.-Mexico border to meet with asylum-seekers and recently released immigrants to help explain the post-release immigration process. He also meets with detained parents who are separated from their children with one mission in mind: to reunite these families.

The people he serves are fleeing violence and abuse from their home countries in Central America. Generally, this means helping them navigate the American court system and the asylum application process.

“The immediate, unquestioned respect and deference your clients give you and society gives you by virtue of your being a lawyer is a tremendous honor but also attaches to it a tremendous responsibility. Without our guidance, many of these clients would be sitting in a deportation center awaiting a one-way ticket back to a country where they might be met with threats and violence. Knowing that I can help keep people safe and provide opportunities to their children that I have always taken for granted is incredibly rewarding.”

His work in McAllen is not Joey’s first pro bono work. In law school, he was a member of the Pro Bono Board at UNC for all three years. He then served for three years on the UNC Pro Bono Alumni Board, has been a member of the NC Pro Bono Honor Society, and has been honored by King & Spalding for his pro bono service.

We certainly thank Joey for his dedication to pro bono and cannot wait to see the great things he will achieve in the future and all the people who undoubtedly will benefit.