Is an Immigration Law Practice Right for You?
Angela T. Drees, an international lawyer at Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC, in Birmingham, Alabama, can be contacted at ATD@hsy.com.
As this article was being written, the U.S. Senate rejected the latest attempt at immigration reform: Proposed Senate Bill S. 1639. Politicians and pundits dubbed the bill the “grand bargain,” which generally focused on all aspects of immigration law, including family-based and employer-based visas, and policies and procedures for acquiring permanent residence status in the United States.
Immigration law is intimately tied to the global marketplace and ensures that workers are able to enter the United States so that our labor markets remain large, vibrant, and diverse. For example, the State of Alabama has been voted “State of the Year” by Site Selection Magazine for the past four years with respect to the amount of money invested and number of jobs created. The average unemployment rate in Alabama is around 4 percent, and nearly half of all of the investment indicated in the statistic was received by international sources with large, corresponding labor pools.
For young attorneys considering a career in immigration law, the United States’ position in the global economy, its rich immigrant history, and current politics can contribute to an active immigration practice. U.S. citizens are divided on many issues surrounding immigration reform. As the U.S. economy changes and Congress continues to propose solutions to a very complex problem, immigration attorneys will be able to “reinvent” themselves every decade to keep up with legislation. With all of this in mind, a young and emerging practitioner may find almost permanent job security in the area of immigration law.
The practice of immigration law requires thick-skinned practitioners who must regularly explain complex immigration visa law to American employers or families who may have never left the United States and who likely do not understand border patrol, penal mandates, political asylum, or family-based unity laws. A practitioner might be required to respond to those global company executives who question why U.S. immigration policy seems to ignore a changing world in terms of creating a diverse pool of new employees and promoting a new and creative workforce.
Technology has made immigration law practice not only easier but also fun. You can have a fully portable “virtual” office that you can access from anywhere in the world using remote-office software packages. This allows you to represent clients you may never meet face to face. Your clients can access your virtual office remotely to check the status of their cases, thereby limiting the “What is going on in my case?” questions that require your time.
So if you are considering an immigration law practice, there is no time like the present to enter the immigration fray. Congress, media pundits, and even your friends and neighbors may find your practice fascinating, which can place you in demand at social functions. You could help integrate foreign workers into a juggernaut U.S. economy and educate your communities about important immigration issues. You could even end up being a hero when you successfully conclude your first political-asylum case by helping someone really in need.
• International Law 101: Immigration and Business Law at the YLD Fall Conference Fri., Oct. 5. Cosponsored by the Section of International Law.