Athena Eliades – CAP Volunteer of the Month – February 2021
Athena was born and raised in Las Vegas. As a young adult, Athena discovered her love for travel and world exploration and this is what inspired her to study history. She earned her master’s degree in history from San Francisco State University with a concentration in women and gender in Latin America. Having lived in Costa Rica and learning about Latin America, she saw firsthand the scars and legacies of colonialism, and observed their effects on the nature of poverty. After Athena finished her master’s degree, she became a professor and started teaching history at Berkeley City College. She soon realized that in order to attain fulfillment in her career, she needed to be helping others in more interpersonal ways. Her desire to serve the poverty-stricken and marginalized members of society motivated her to go to law school.
Athena and her partner started Shamoon Eliades, LLP in 2020 because they both shared passion for helping others, particularly immigrants. They met in law school, and are both alumni of the UNLV Immigration Clinic. From the outset, it became their plan to have a practice that focused on pro bono clients. Their vision is to be a law firm that immigrants can trust to render quality representation without charging exorbitant legal fees. Athena believes that the more successful they are, the more they hope to expand their pro bono practice and continue giving back to the community they strive to serve.
When asked why she does pro bono work, Athena’s response was extremely touching. Athena is the daughter of an immigrant who fled Europe from Nazis. She’s always had an affinity with refugees and displaced people. She stated that being an attorney, she is in a position that allows her to help individuals who might otherwise be unrepresented. She believes that our legal system is tipped heavily in favor of the wealthy and powerful. As such, she does what she can to help even the odds for those who cannot afford legal representation or are too young to understand what is going on. Athena expressed how rewarding it has been for her to do pro bono work and how she can’t imagine having a practice without pro bono work being an integral part of her work.
We asked Athena to share a story about her most memorable pro bono client and her answer did not fall short from extraordinary. She shared that her most memorable clients were the first clients she had as a student attorney in the UNLV Immigration Clinic. She said those clients were a brother and a sister that were minors at the time that she represented them. The minors had fled violence in their home country and traveled an arduous journey, as many do, to seek refuge in the United States. After going through significant trauma they were finally able to find safety in the United States and were granted visas to stay. Her win solidified her path as an immigration attorney and as an advocate for children.
Athena’s eagerness to help others, her selflessness dedication, passion and conviction is what makes her an extraordinary Pro Bono Volunteer of the month. We are beyond grateful to work with her to provide access to justice to vulnerable children in Nevada’s foster care system.