Luckier Than Most Lawyers

We are very, very lucky.
We love what we do.
We love winning.
We chose this work, many years ago.

People need us. There’s no greater look than the one on the person’s face when he gets his permanent residence or she takes the oath of citizenship. It’s wonderful to know that you made it happen.  Not for ego, although it would be human not to ignore that part.  You have to be confident that you will win.

It’s really about the feeling that Lauren had when she convinced a judge to let our client stay here because he would be tortured at home in Africa.  Or when Maggie made it possible for a battered woman from Latin America to find a safe place to live.  Or when I helped the family from Asia whose child has major challenges trying to speak.

Somebody once said, “The toughest people are those who speak for those who cannot speak.”

I may not be good at much, but I know how to help people live in America.  Our firm keeps brainstorming new ways in the face of insane laws.
We are a unit here, a team of lawyers and interns who have to get creative when visas are running out, when green cards are backlogged, and when immigrants are getting detained and deported at all-time record numbers.

At this point, we, the immigration attorneys, have become artists.  We use our imagination.  We envision how things will look when we are done.  And we are inspired by the same thing every time.


I have Mexican clients who have been waiting more than ten years to get their green cards based on hard work that they do with their own, calloused hands.  They are holding valid job offers with a green card at the end of the rainbow.  And they all say, “You know what, Mr. York?  I would have given up by now, but I can’t take my children to the country where I was born.  There’s nothing for them there. No future.  And to make matters worse, it’s gotten dangerous back there.  All I want, all my wife wants, is for our kids to graduate high school and attend university in America.”

How do you give up on those people?
And what about the college professors from all over the world, who need us to help them stay here to teach those people’s kids?
And the wife of the local policeman?  We’re still fighting to finish her case.  Just because he is in law enforcement does not mean that she gets special treatment.  She is stuck in Europe, waiting for the Embassy to issue her papers.                                                                                                                                                                    Even ballplayers whose American teams and fans worry that the guy may not be here by Opening Day as his visa is still being processed.

The system is stacked against the immigrant.  It’s enforcement first, questions and more questions.  There are valid reasons for the rules.  We know this.  It is why people need us.

At the end of every long day, I catch my breath and think about how I discovered as a law student in New Orleans in 1993, that I would like to go into Immigration.  It wasn’t just that I knew Spanish.  It wasn’t just that I found the work fascinating,

It was finally realizing why those English instructors had forced us to read Waiting for Godot.  And why those Art teachers had us study Dali.
This is the only type of law practice where you deal with the absurd and the surreal on a daily basis.
You have a slingshot and a rock and had better be super focused with your aim.
You have to be passionate about it, or you will not win.
And we hate losing.

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.” — Gary Player



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Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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