This chapter provides an overview of challenges that arise when representing torture survivors and strategies to ensure these challenges do not act as a barrier to effective legal representation. Attorneys encounter torture survivors with a variety of legal needs. Frequently, however, the survivor’s initial and most pressing legal problem involves immigration matters, such as asylum, family reunification, or defense from removal (deportation). Because safety is crucial to the survivor’s ability to engage fully in torture treatment services, the asylum process is integral to rehabilitation.
Other related immigration legal services, including family reunification and obtaining lawful permanent resident status, may also be vital to the survivor’s steps toward rehabilitation. Survivors with a variety of immigration statuses may find themselves in need of representation in these matters. Without a lawyer’s careful attention, these issues may interfere substantially with clients’ ability to participate in their representation. In these situations, attorneys must diligently practice the basics of good lawyering: building a solid attorney-client relationship, communicating effectively with the client throughout representation, and, at all times, treating the client with dignity and respect.