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Jayne E. Fleming

Jayne E. Fleming

Pro Bono Counsel

Practice Areas


  • University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, 2000, J.D., Finalist in the McBaine Moot Court Honors Competition; Student-Director of the Boalt Hall Appellate Advocacy Program; Student Advisor of the Appellate Advocacy Program; Member of the Health Care Law Society
  • University of California, Berkeley, B.A., highest honors, Political Science

Professional Admissions / Qualifications

  • California

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - Northern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Tenth Circuit

Jayne is Pro Bono Counsel to Reed Smith, where she leads the firm's Human Rights Team, which comprises more than 100 lawyers firm-wide.

Jayne has represented torture survivors and asylum seekers from throughout the world, and she has extensive experience working with traumatized children who have suffered violence, displacement, and family separation. She has handled and supervised dozens of asylum cases, and many of these have helped move the law forward in the area of gender-based violence.

Jayne’s human rights work extends far beyond the United States, and over the past decade, she has developed human rights projects in two of the most challenging regions in the world: Haiti and the Middle East.

In April 2016, Jayne and the Middle East team also began developing a project to serve refugees stranded on the Greek islands.

Asylum Practice  

The following represent some of Jayne’s most significant asylum cases:

In Garcia-Martinez v. Ashcroft (2004), Jayne convinced the Ninth Circuit that the systematic rape of women during the Guatemalan civil war was not merely criminal conduct, but also a weapon of war used for political purposes. Given the political context, women survivors were entitled to assert asylum claims. Human rights experts hailed the court’s decision as an important victory for all women.

In January 2006, Jayne represented an Albanian teen who was held hostage for a month, subjected to daily rapes, and “prepared” for sex trafficking. The court said the attempted trafficking was a “personal” matter rather than a sociopolitical issue. After launching a national advocacy campaign supported by several human rights organizations, Jayne successfully mediated the case in the Second Circuit.

In April 2006, Jayne represented a Congolese woman imprisoned for six weeks and subjected to daily rapes. The Fifth Circuit had rejected her appeal on the ground that her torture was not politically motivated. Jayne filed a motion to reopen based on new evidence, and she launched an advocacy campaign with the help of several human rights organizations. This campaign led to thousands of letters reaching the desk of then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. Shortly thereafter, the government joined in Jayne’s motion, and the client ultimately received asylum.

In 2007, Jayne represented a Honduran woman who was subjected to child abuse and gang violence. Well aware that winning the case would be an uphill battle, Jayne flew to Honduras to meet with experts, wrote multiple briefs and declarations, and devoted hundreds of hours to witness interviews. The client was ultimately granted asylum on humanitarian grounds.

In 2009, Jayne won asylum for a 17-year-old girl from Guatemala who was persecuted because of her indigenous origin. She also achieved stipulated resolution in a case on behalf of a 16-year-old client from Guatemala who was subjected to extreme family violence and sexual abuse. In these cases and others, Jayne was able to provide the U.S. courts with essential evidence by flying in experts from on-the-ground relief agencies in other countries, such as the Center for Women’s Rights, which works directly with the most at-risk women and children in Honduras.

In 2010, Jayne won a significant asylum case in San Francisco Immigration Court on behalf of an 11 year-old girl, who had fled Honduras at the age of seven with her cousin, when their family had been targeted for death by gangs. These cases are traditionally hard to win, because of circuit court precedent that says that resistance to gang recruitment is not a basis for asylum.

In 2011, she won four more cases, gaining protection for a teenage boy from Honduras, who was subjected to extreme sexual exploitation; securing safety for an HIV-positive woman, who was subjected to extreme domestic violence and abuse; preventing the deportation of a woman from Liberia, who suffered domestic violence and abuse; and winning asylum for a gay man from Morocco, who feared prosecution for refusing to hide his sexual orientation.

In 2012, Jayne won asylum for a gay man from Guinea who was subjected to a public stoning after he rejected a forced marriage and came out about his homosexual status. She also won asylum for a domestic violence survivor from Honduras, and she achieved victories for two asylum seekers who suffered sexual violence in Haiti.

In 2013, Jayne maintained her winning streak by securing asylum victories for a torture survivor from Syria and another client from Haiti. She also successfully represented the mother of an HIV-positive asylum seeker who died in ICE detention, because he was wrongfully denied access to his medication and other adequate medical treatment. Jayne also obtained humanitarian parole for a young man gang-raped in 2011 in Haiti by UN peacekeepers from Uruguay, allowing him to re-settle in the United States and receive much-needed psychological care.

In 2014, Jayne rallied more than a hundred doctors, lawyers, aid workers, and government officials in three nations to help a young Honduran mother and her 2-year-old child obtain life-saving medical care after they’d been injured on the so-called “train of death” in Mexico.

By the end of 2014, Jayne’s Reed Smith Haiti team and its partners had evacuated 60 women and child victims of violence in Haiti to safety in the United States. To date, Jayne and the pro bono team at Reed Smith have brought 63 individual Haitian clients to permanent safety in the United States and Canada.

In January 2015, Jayne launched a new humanitarian protection project in the Middle East to identify refugees who have suffered persecution or torture, and relocate them to places where they may heal and restart their lives. Currently, 31 Reed Smith lawyers and five paralegals in 11 offices across three continents are working on the Middle East Protection project.

In 2016, Jayne and the Middle East team have begun developing a project to serve refugees stranded on the Greek islands.

Haiti Projects

Haiti Humanitarian Protection Project

In 2010, Haiti experienced an earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. Jayne’s first impulse was to go there—not to render aid, but to assess the human rights conditions in displacement camps. She formed a team of world-class doctors and lawyers, flew to Haiti, and documented not only a natural disaster, but a human rights catastrophe as well. Gangs of men were raping women and girls in camps, public baths, and on the streets. Local NGOs lacked resources to help the victims; government services were nonexistent.

Between 2010 and 2016, Jayne traveled to Haiti 30 times to develop evidence, interview clients, meet with the UN, and build cases. By becoming a partner of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the ground in Haiti, Jayne and her teams played a key role in identifying and protecting women and girls at the highest risk of harm. Jayne worked closely in partnership with two of the oldest women’s organizations in Haiti, building their capacity and learning from their experience.

Jayne led Reed Smith in being the first legal team to file applications for humanitarian parole for Haitian victims of sexual violence with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Reed Smith is also the only law firm that partnered with UNHCR to evacuate victims of sexual violence to Canada. To date, Jayne and the pro bono team at Reed Smith have brought 63 individual Haitian clients to permanent safety in the United States and Canada.

Campaign to Eliminate Violence against Women

Reed Smith’s commitment to Haiti is ongoing and involves resources across the firm. In addition to the Humanitarian Protection work, Jayne has led several other initiatives at Reed Smith for Haiti, including a multifaceted campaign for the elimination of violence against women in Haiti. Components of this continuing campaign include the following:

In late 2010, in response to a rise in unethical reporting of sexual violence against women and children, Jayne organized a Working Group on Media Protocols on Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Haiti in Support of UN Campaign to Eliminate Violence against Women. Working with Haitian reporters, the Haitian Ministry of Women, the head of the French Press Agency in Haiti, and more than 20 NGOs focused on the protection of women and girls, Jayne and lawyers from Reed Smith’s U.S. and European offices drafted a report describing the key international and national guidelines relating to the topic, and highlighted best codes of practice with reference to specific jurisdictions. This report was supplemented by the recommendations arising out of a roundtable discussion held by a panel of media experts in London.

In December 2011, Reed Smith lawyers went to Haiti to run a conference on the topic of SGBV, in partnership with SOS Journalists, a coalition of Haitian journalists. More than 50 people attended, and speakers included the new Minister for Women, a Haitian Judge and Prosecutor, as well as representatives from the World Bank, BAI, MADRE and Digital Democracy. Attendees agreed that there is a need for guidelines specific to SGBV. Lobbying is now also underway for the insertion of a section on ethical reporting specific to this in the new Code of Ethics for journalists in Haiti, which was released by UNESCO in the same week as the conference.

Recognizing that Haiti’s anti-rape laws were only recently enacted and are rarely enforced, Jayne, other Reed Smith lawyers, and attorneys from three other firms, worked with the Thomson Reuters Foundation and MADRE to make recommendations on draft rape laws in Haiti, with the aim of providing better support to rape survivors and increasing the likelihood of prosecutions.

In January 2012, this coalition produced a detailed comprehensive report on the subject, published by TrustLaw, a Thomson Reuters Foundation service, entitled, “Achieving Justice for Victims of Rape and Advancing Women’s Rights.”

Haiti Takes Root

In 2015, Jayne also led an international Reed Smith team in a landmark initiative dedicated to the reforestation and redevelopment of Haiti. Reed Smith represented Haiti Takes Root in forging this unique partnership between The French and Haitian governments, The Parker Foundation, and Sean Penn (for Haiti Takes Root).

To make it possible, Jayne led nine Reed Smith attorneys in six offices who worked on the initiative throughout the year in Haiti, France, and the United States, negotiating and drafting the complex, cross-border, project documents. The firm also hosted multiple expert meetings in Paris and Haiti, participated in discussions with the World Bank, and rallied support from the Yale School of Forestry. The initiative was formally launched at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.

The Patricia Fleming Fund

In 2006, Jayne independently established The Patricia Fleming Fund in memory of her mother. This nonprofit raises money to help clients relocate from tent camps to safe houses; provides education grants for children impacted by violence; and pays for emergency medical care, food and clean water for all of her client families. All funds donated to her Patricia Fleming Fund are used to protect and support Haitian women and children living on less than $1 a day.

Middle East Protection Project

Building on her successes in Haiti and Latin America, Jayne launched a new human rights project in the Middle East in January 2015. The goal of the project is to identify Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have suffered persecution or torture, and relocate them to places where they may heal. So far, Jayne has led teams on four separate missions to interview refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraqi Kurdistan. The teams have conducted nearly 100 interviews, and identified more than 20 clients, for whom we are developing comprehensive legal protection strategies.

Like in the United States, Central America and Haiti, many of the firm’s clients have suffered gender-based violence. Four clients are confined to a women’s prison in the Middle East because they are at risk of honor killing. The firm is developing relocation strategies outside of their country. Several other clients are living in hiding because they fear rape or other forms of sexual exploitation. Many of the firm’s clients in Jordan and Lebanon are torture survivors with extreme mental health pathologies. Many are children who are suffering war trauma.

Currently, 31 Reed Smith lawyers and five paralegals in 11 offices across three continents are working on the Middle East Protection project.

Our pro bono clients include single mothers from Syria and Iraq, a 60-year-old grandmother from the Bedouin community of Kuwait, three women at risk of murder by “honor killing,” and a 41-year-old transgender woman from Iraq. Although they are from many different places, our clients are all victims of sexual, gender-based violence or other forms of torture. As a result, they are all in need of international protection.

Because the political, social, cultural, and religious context of these cases is complex, our lawyers must develop each case slowly, carefully, always relying on guidance from advocates within the countries where they are working (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon) or where we have offices (UAE). Our strategy in this climate is to focus on building the strongest and most persuasive cases possible for our clients. We do this by demonstrating the grave risks these clients face and the special characteristics that set them apart from the staggering numbers of refugees around the world.

To further our goals, we have opened channels of advocacy within the UNHCR to share information and develop evidence in support of priority resettlement. Tracking cases through the UNHCR pipeline, we’ve built further support networks and legal teams in countries where clients will be relocated. We are also pursuing several alternative protection strategies in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and France, which have humanitarian visa programs in addition to the UNHCR resettlement program.

Greece Protection Project

In April 2016, Jayne and the Middle East team began developing a project to serve refugees stranded on the Greek islands. With borders across Europe closed, more than 60,000 refugees who took boats from Turkey are now trapped in Greece. Jayne is leading a team of nine lawyers to Greece to provide legal aid to those refugees who are at risk of deportation back to Turkey.

Employment History

  • 2003 – Reed Smith
    • Human Rights Team Leader
    • Member of Reed Smith's Associates Committee
  • 2000 - Crosby Heafey Roach & May
    • (combined with Reed Smith in 2003)

Honors & Awards

  • National Law Journal Pro Bono Hot List (2015)
  • Financial Times Most Innovative Law Firm in North America ‘Social Responsibility - Projects’ (2014)
  • Reed Smith Sean Halpin Award (2013)
  • The Recorder Pro Bono Achievers (2012)
  • UC Berkeley School of Law Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring (2011)
  • National Law Journal Pro Bono Award (2011)
  • National Law Journal Pro Bono Award (2010)
  • Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law (2009)
  • ABA Section of Litigation, John Minor Wisdom Award for Pro Bono and Community Service (2008)
  • Included in the 2008 edition of Who's Who in America
  • Named as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in America by National Law Journal (2007)
  • Named California Lawyer Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine (2005)
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Father Moriarity Award (2005)
  • Reed Smith Sean Halpin Award (2005)

Professional Affiliations

  • Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (Board and Executive Committee Member)
  • Ubuntu in Action (President of the Board of Directors)
  • Legal Justice Center (Founder)
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (Member)
  • American Bar Association, Committee for Human Rights (Member)
  • San Francisco Bar Association: International Human Rights Section (Member)
  • Survivors International (Board Member 2009 - 2012)
  • First District Appellate Project (Board Member 2008 - 2012)


In addition to watching old movies with her kids, Fleming loves to write, cook, visit art museums and browse in antique stores.

Interviews & Commentary

  • The National Law Journal honored Jayne and the firm in its annual Pro Bono Hot List, for which the project was profiled in “Mobile Clinic in Haiti Delivers Hope,” 5 January 2015
  • “Financial Times Awards Reed Smith Top Honor for Social Responsibility Project”—FT awarded Reed Smith its top honor in North America for “Innovation in a Social Responsibility Project” for its work in Haiti. The firm received the highest score of all firms that were shortlisted for the honor, and is one of only four that received the “Standout” distinction in the category, News Releases, 4 December, 2014.
  • “Relocation for Haitian Rape Survivors; Haitian rape survivors begin new lives in Canada and the US, Resettlement programs offer an escape from violence and time to heal,” a syndicated article profiling one of Jayne’s clients, 1 July, 2014.
  • “What Lawyers and Law Firms Can Do,” an editorial Jayne wrote on the Reed Smith Haiti project for the Connecticut Law Tribune, 22 January, 2014.
  • “Reed Smith, Robert Rubin take on 'Justice for Johny',” Daily Journal, 9 April, 2013.
  • “Assault victim in UN case hires international legal team,” Associated Press, 4 April, 2013.
  • “Pro Bono Achievers,” Reed Smith was chosen by Am Law affiliate The Recorder as one of the ten leading Northern California pro bono practices, and Fleming was interviewed for an accompanying online video segment about her work in Haiti, The Recorder, 14 September 2012
  • Haiti’s Other Epidemic – Violence Against Women and Girls, a documentary featuring Jayne Fleming by Dan Alder about “the epidemic of rape in post-quake Haiti and an American lawyer’s attempt to help women caught up in the violence,” September 2011
  • “Reed Smith Pro Bono Counsel Wins Berkeley Law’s Kathi Pugh Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring,” News Releases, 29 April 2011
  • Rape in the camps: Sexual Violence in Haiti after the Quake, a news piece from The Thomson Reuters Foundation for which Fleming was interviewed, January 2011
  • Crimes Against Women In Haiti Staggering, Panel Finds, a New York 1 TV report on the Thomson Reuters Foundation panel that Jayne Fleming helped organize in New York City on the state of Haiti, one year following the earthquake, January 2011
  • “Pro Bono Awards: When Disaster Struck, The Lawyers Rushed In,” National Law Journal, 3 January 2011
  • Haiti camps no safe havens for women, a report that Fleming contributed to from The Pulitzer Center on Haiti’s rape crisis, December 22, 2010
  • “Haitians Hope for Humanitarian Parole,” a video documentary featuring Fleming on the Reed Smith Humanitarian Parole Project, New American Media, 15 August 2010
  • “ABA Unanimously Passes Resolution from Reed Smith Human Rights Team Leader Jayne Fleming - Bar demands action over severe lack of food, shelter, medical care and security for Haiti's women and children,” News Releases, 10 August 2010
  • “Witnesses for Haiti,” The Huffington Post, 12 July 2010
  • “Reed Smith Pro Bono Counsel Leads Delegation of Human Rights Attorneys and Doctors Back to Haiti - Firm Launches Humanitarian Parole Resource Site: www.haitilegalmedical.com” News Releases, 25 May 2010
  • “Girls as young as two facing rape in tent cities as UN security patrols fail to protect women after Haiti earthquake,” Daily Mall, 17 March 2010
  • “Girl who fled Honduran gangs is granted asylum,” San Francisco Chronicle, 12 February 2010
  • National Law Journal’s 2010 Pro Bono Awards: “Asylum cases keep her on the cutting edge,” 4 January 2010
  • “Fighting for Freedom,” Women Legal, June 2009
  • “Reed Smith Human Rights Team Leader wins 2009 Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law,” News Releases, 7 May 2009
  • "Reed Smith Attorneys Take on Kids Asylum Cases,” Recorder, 21 April 2008
  • “ABA Honors Reed Smith Lawyer,” San Francisco Daily Journal, 21 April 2008
  • “Reed Smith Appoints Oakland Lawyer as National Pro Bono Counsel, East Bay Business Times, 25 January 2008
  • “Seven Years Later and Lawyer and Client Both Win: Attorney Develops Her Practice and Helps Political Protestor Get Political Asylum," San Francisco Daily Journal, 24 January 2008
  • “Rape Victim Gains Political Asylum: Congolese Women Had Earlier Been Denied by a U.S. Judge,” Los Angeles Times, 17 December 2008
  • Safe Haven, Reed Smith’s Jayne Fleming Wins Clients’ Freedom, East Bay Business Times, 1 September 2006
  • DRC Asylum Seeker Gets Second Chance, CBS Radio, 22 August 2006
  • Congolese Woman Gets New Chance at Asylum, NPR Radio, 21 August 2006
  • Contesting the Bar to Asylum: The Justice Department asks for Review of a Congolese Woman’s Case, Los Angeles Times, 21 August 2006
  • "U.S. Case Against Asylum-Seeker Meets Skeptical 9th Circuit Panel, San Francisco Daily Journal, 25 February 2006
  • "Immigration Court Review Ordered: Attorney General Questions Quality of Work, Lack of Respect," ABA Journal eReport, 3 February 2006
  • “The Asylum Wars [The Gender Gap]," The American Lawyer, February 2006
  • “Judge’s Rulings on Asylum Seekers Earns Rebukes,” San Francisco Daily Journal, 31 January 2006
  • “Immigration Judges Come Under Fire: Critics Say System Oversight is Weak," The National Law Journal, 30 January 2006
  • “Voices for Justice,” Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area, Winter 2005-2006
  • “The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, And Illegal Immigration Control Act: Another Step Backwards For Human Rights,” The Recorder, 16 December 2005
  • “Asylum Logjam: Streamlined Immigration Cases Are Flooding Federal Appeals Courts," ABA Journal, October 2005
  • “U.S. Tightens Asylum Rules,” San Jose Mercury News, 22 September 2005
  • “Gang-rape victim granted asylum after long court battle, Appeals court says attack on woman in Guatemala was political persecution,” San Francisco Chronicle, 15 July 2005
  • “Spurred by 9th Circuit, Immigration Judge Reverses Self,” San Francisco Daily Journal, 6 July 2005
  • “Opening Old Wounds: A New US Law Could Send Immigrant Torture Victims Back to Their Tormentors,” East Bay Express, 15 June 2005
  • “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award - Pro Bono,” California Lawyer, March 2005
  • “Trouble Makers Gather for Lunch, Speeches, Awards,” Daily Journal Extra, 7 February 2005
  • Annual Report 2005, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Hastings College of the Law
  • “U.S. Court Rules Rape is Grounds for Asylum,” INCASA Impressions, October 2004
  • “Ninth Leans to Asylum for Rape Victim,” The Recorder, 15 April 2004