Michelle Movahed is a partner and head of McCarter’s Pro Bono practice. In addition to litigating on behalf of the firm’s pro bono clients, Michelle directs the firmwide Pro Bono program to ensure that the Firm’s commitment to serving those in need is strategically and effectively implemented, including by advocating for systemic reform.
Michelle is an experienced social justice lawyer who has worked extensively with and for marginalized and vulnerable communities throughout the United States. In the Special Litigation Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group, she litigated class actions and other cases with potential to redress systemic harms suffered by low-income people in New York City, including a constitutional challenge to deprivations of Medicaid-funded services; a challenge to widespread special education violations suffered by children at a charter school; and a challenge to the constitutionality of certain immigration procedures. She also served as an adjunct professor at Cardozo Law. From 2007-2014, Michelle was an attorney in the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she litigated high-profile federal and state cases challenging restrictions on women’s constitutionally-protected access to care in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona, and elsewhere. She also worked closely with coalitions and clients around the country through human rights work, including at the United Nations, on campaigns to respond to proposed regulations and other threats to access, and providing advice and counsel to individual clients.
Before becoming a lawyer, Michelle oversaw provision of social services at a disaster relief site in Manhattan and directly provided services to homeless women in a shelter in the South Bronx, in addition to teaching ESL to refugees through the Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture. She also worked as a field organizer and deputy campaign manager on political campaigns in South Central Los Angeles and Brooklyn, respectively.