Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

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Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:11 am

I graduated off cycle (I had a baby!) at a T14 this fall. My grades are bottom of the barrel, no luck even getting any interviews in the field I had the most experience and internships in, which is labor and employment. My plan B goes like this: I am a second generation immigrant from a middle eastern country in turmoil (guess which one!). I speak Arabic fairly well and lived in said country for awhile, have lots of friends/family there. Because they know I am in law, people are always asking my DH if he can recommend an immigration lawyer for them, or if I can help them. Because I'm a fool, I never took immigration law. My desperation plan B is to beg some immigration lawyer from my alma mater if I can shadow them around for a couple of months and then see if I can just start doing asylum applications and the like solo, starting my little experiment with family members first. I already did my dh's immigration paperwork, and I wasn't even a lawyer when I did it!

Is this idea insane? Stupid? Incredibly insane and stupid?

Be gentle, it's the only Plan B I have.

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kalvano
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby kalvano » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:13 am

You're a female child of immigrants with a law degree from a T14 school that speaks Arabic? Have you applied to government jobs, like the CIA? You have numerous qualities they look for.

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:02 am

kalvano wrote:You're a female child of immigrants with a law degree from a T14 school that speaks Arabic? Have you applied to government jobs, like the CIA? You have numerous qualities they look for.


You would THINK SO, wouldn't you??? But alas, my skills are not quite up to the standard that the government needs (or, my grades are just THAT BAD)- I can get the gist of things like news articles, but I am mostly conversational, and I guess that the government needs people who can accomplish more than chit-chat over tea. I know, I know, perhaps if we did more chit-chatting over tea in people's native languages and less blowing shit up, we'd all be better off, but that's for another forum I suppose. A guy from the FBI told me I should take their language test, so I guess that's another plan B, but being an FBI agent doesn't really appeal to me, honestly...

A friend pointed me to jobs at commerce but they need people with much more fluency than I have. His idea was to "fake it" but I could barely make it through law school in plain English, much less fake reading legal documents in Arabic. I also have some Arabic textbooks that will get some good use as I sit around, unemployed, so maybe in time I will be able to make better use of that skill set.

tnguy03
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby tnguy03 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:24 am

I don't think it's a bad idea. The only drawback is that you may screw up some paperwork if you're not careful with deadlines. Any immigration law you need to learn or would have learned in class can be obtained through an old outline of the class. But if I were you, I would research more heavily into what agencies you need to deal with for the type of work that you're looking for. Read some treatises on immigration law if you must, but look for ones that deal less with the nuances the law than the practical aspects of immigration law.

Shadowing someone would be ideal. You can also contract one of the immigration professors at your old school to see if they can give you a leg up. If this is your Plan B though and there are no other Plan B's, you should put your time and effort into it. You will be dealing with real problems for people too so that will give you some more motivation to do the job right. If you do well and have a knack for it, more business will come down the road. Just make a timeline of what documents you have to file and when. I cannot imagine it would be any more difficult than anything else you would have done in law school.

Good luck!

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okinawa
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby okinawa » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:37 am

Can you take a refresher course on Arabic? Rosetta stone or something? If you are already conversational, it shouldn't take that much of a push to get you to able to translate documents for the government.

This can probably be done at the same time as shadowing an immigration attorney--though if you want to do anything but public interest, Arabic isn't super helpful. Maybe somewhat. Most business immigration, you'd be better off with Mandarin or Japanese, or just English because most are higher level in a company and speak it.

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:34 pm

okinawa wrote:Can you take a refresher course on Arabic? Rosetta stone or something? If you are already conversational, it shouldn't take that much of a push to get you to able to translate documents for the government.

This can probably be done at the same time as shadowing an immigration attorney--though if you want to do anything but public interest, Arabic isn't super helpful. Maybe somewhat. Most business immigration, you'd be better off with Mandarin or Japanese, or just English because most are higher level in a company and speak it.


Conversational Arabic is easy. Modern Standard Arabic (the written kind) is very hard, and I think some people have more of a knack for learning languages than I do, plus I have a crazed toddler running around at home. And the reason I'm doing this is because I already have a base of clients that I can glean from- people that I already know who want to immigrate to the US from an Arabic country. They just need someone who they can converse with in Arabic. That said, I'm unemployed. I haven't been unoccupied for years, so maybe I'll actually have enough time to devote to learning Arabic that I'll make some progress. Who knows!

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kalvano
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby kalvano » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:19 pm

I don't think the idea is terrible at all. It seems like you would have a leg up, being a member of the culture and being conversant in the language. Seems like that would give you an advantage over some generic white dude promising the same thing. It would also help you get clients, which is one of the harder parts in going solo, besides knowing what to do with them.

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:40 pm

I took immigration and have done a year long clinic in it. Even with this small glimpse into the world of immigration, I can confidently say that I would really not recommend doing this. Immigration is an extremely complex and dysfunctional area of law and shadowing someone for a few months will surely not be enough time to learn the intricacies in this area required to work as a solo practitioner. Every day I see tons and tons of cases done by attorneys who have no idea what they are doing and charge people the very little money they have managed to save up to do very little, very poorly. Please don't be one of these people.

Also, for your own benefit, if you do choose to pursue immigration law, asylum cases may not be your best option. You said that you have done labor/employment law, and there is quite a bit of crossover between that and immigration, just vary rarely does that intersection involve asylum cases. Your best bet, based on the little i know about your situation, would be to beg to shadow someone who does corporate immigration (which tends to be slightly more mechanical and easier to pick up in a short period of time) and hopefully parlay that experience and your combined previous experiences into work at a smaller firm doing corporate immigration.

Good luck and I hope it all works out!

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Torney12 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:13 pm

okinawa wrote:Can you take a refresher course on Arabic? Rosetta stone or something? If you are already conversational, it shouldn't take that much of a push to get you to able to translate documents for the government.

This can probably be done at the same time as shadowing an immigration attorney--though if you want to do anything but public interest, Arabic isn't super helpful. Maybe somewhat. Most business immigration, you'd be better off with Mandarin or Japanese, or just English because most are higher level in a company and speak it.
This right here is the advice I started to type out. Polish those Arabic skills! Arabic is probably tied with Mandarin as the important non-Western language to know in the global economy, and one of the most important languages to know period. It is also one of the most difficult to pick up. You have a major leg up on the competition because you are a native speaker. Being an immigration lawyer in the interim is fine, but it should absolutely be a priority for you to buckle down and get your Arabic to fluent. Assuming you are at all competent at selling yourself and did not have straight Fs, you will see doors open if you can list fluent Arabic + T14 school on your resume.

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:20 am

Torney12 wrote:
okinawa wrote:Can you take a refresher course on Arabic? Rosetta stone or something? If you are already conversational, it shouldn't take that much of a push to get you to able to translate documents for the government.

This can probably be done at the same time as shadowing an immigration attorney--though if you want to do anything but public interest, Arabic isn't super helpful. Maybe somewhat. Most business immigration, you'd be better off with Mandarin or Japanese, or just English because most are higher level in a company and speak it.
This right here is the advice I started to type out. Polish those Arabic skills! Arabic is probably tied with Mandarin as the important non-Western language to know in the global economy, and one of the most important languages to know period. It is also one of the most difficult to pick up. You have a major leg up on the competition because you are a native speaker. Being an immigration lawyer in the interim is fine, but it should absolutely be a priority for you to buckle down and get your Arabic to fluent. Assuming you are at all competent at selling yourself and did not have straight Fs, you will see doors open if you can list fluent Arabic + T14 school on your resume.


OP here. I have to emphasize that "becoming fluent in Arabic" is much, much, easier said than done. At least for me, it is. I am really in awe of Americans who learn Arabic because I find it tedious and horrible and almost impossible. Basically, I could have had a very lucrative career without going to law school if I had wanted to develop those skills (and obviously that would have been the smarter thing to do, but hindsight is 20/20). Maybe I have some sort of weird psychological block, who knows! That said, I will certainly TRY this approach, but I know myself, and I know the language enough to know it will take me, personally, a very long time to reach where I need to be where I am comfortable telling a potential employer that I am fluent. I also question the usefulness of Arabic outside of certain jobs in the government context but that's another issue, I'll take any job I can get. I would much, much rather work as an English-speaking lawyer if it is at all possible. I know the reality of this economy is that I can't be picky, but it's going to take me forever to learn Modern Standard Arabic. Believe me, I've tried.

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Torney12 » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Torney12 wrote:
okinawa wrote:Can you take a refresher course on Arabic? Rosetta stone or something? If you are already conversational, it shouldn't take that much of a push to get you to able to translate documents for the government.

This can probably be done at the same time as shadowing an immigration attorney--though if you want to do anything but public interest, Arabic isn't super helpful. Maybe somewhat. Most business immigration, you'd be better off with Mandarin or Japanese, or just English because most are higher level in a company and speak it.
This right here is the advice I started to type out. Polish those Arabic skills! Arabic is probably tied with Mandarin as the important non-Western language to know in the global economy, and one of the most important languages to know period. It is also one of the most difficult to pick up. You have a major leg up on the competition because you are a native speaker. Being an immigration lawyer in the interim is fine, but it should absolutely be a priority for you to buckle down and get your Arabic to fluent. Assuming you are at all competent at selling yourself and did not have straight Fs, you will see doors open if you can list fluent Arabic + T14 school on your resume.


OP here. I have to emphasize that "becoming fluent in Arabic" is much, much, easier said than done. At least for me, it is. I am really in awe of Americans who learn Arabic because I find it tedious and horrible and almost impossible. Basically, I could have had a very lucrative career without going to law school if I had wanted to develop those skills (and obviously that would have been the smarter thing to do, but hindsight is 20/20). Maybe I have some sort of weird psychological block, who knows! That said, I will certainly TRY this approach, but I know myself, and I know the language enough to know it will take me, personally, a very long time to reach where I need to be where I am comfortable telling a potential employer that I am fluent. I also question the usefulness of Arabic outside of certain jobs in the government context but that's another issue, I'll take any job I can get. I would much, much rather work as an English-speaking lawyer if it is at all possible. I know the reality of this economy is that I can't be picky, but it's going to take me forever to learn Modern Standard Arabic. Believe me, I've tried.
No one said that learning Arabic was easy. We're just saying that you should buckle down and get it done. With a credential like Arabic, you have the opportunity to achieve far more career-wise than your poor grades would ordinarily permit. I am also surprised that government is the only area in which you can imagine Arabic would give you a leg up. You need to do your homework because considering the longstanding and ever-increasing relevance of the middle east to western business, Arabic is useful for far more legal contexts than just government.

On a different note, I have to say that you don't sound very hungry to succeed and that probably explains both your grades and why you couldn't translate lots of applicable job experience + semifluency in a rare, important language + a degree from a prestigious school + diversity into a decent job. You need to ask yourself if you really have the drive and vision to build the best career available to you. Even being a successful solo practitioner takes drive and effort, especially in an area as complex as immigration law (assuming you don't want to be one of the many awful immigration lawyers who screw over unsuspecting immigrants). Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby okinawa » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:45 am

OP, you don't need to be perfect in Arabic to be useful, nor do you need to lie to an employer about your fluency. Can you read a 5 page document in Arabic and translate it to English, given maybe an hour or two and access to a dictionary? Can you watch a news broadcast in Arabic and translate a short segment, even if you need to pause, rewind, re-listen, and think about it? Can you have a conversation in Arabic with a potential client, even if you need to warn them that you're a little rusty or ask them to slow down a bit?

If you can get to those points (not, you have the language skills of someone born and raised Arabic speaking for their whole life--who, btw, tend to not qualify for gov't service because they aren't US citizens or lived outside of the country too long), then the Arabic thing is worth developing, studying more on weekends, and trying to incorporate into your career. If not, it's a non-starter and shouldn't even be brought up when you ask for career advice, because anything less than that won't help you in immigration or government or anything else other than being an interesting fact at a cocktail party. You can still do immigration in English, obviously, and most immigration attorneys do, but don't count on Arabic helping you much with that if you don't think you can get to an intermediate fluency point.

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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:27 pm

Torney12 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Torney12 wrote:
okinawa wrote:Can you take a refresher course on Arabic? Rosetta stone or something? If you are already conversational, it shouldn't take that much of a push to get you to able to translate documents for the government.

This can probably be done at the same time as shadowing an immigration attorney--though if you want to do anything but public interest, Arabic isn't super helpful. Maybe somewhat. Most business immigration, you'd be better off with Mandarin or Japanese, or just English because most are higher level in a company and speak it.
This right here is the advice I started to type out. Polish those Arabic skills! Arabic is probably tied with Mandarin as the important non-Western language to know in the global economy, and one of the most important languages to know period. It is also one of the most difficult to pick up. You have a major leg up on the competition because you are a native speaker. Being an immigration lawyer in the interim is fine, but it should absolutely be a priority for you to buckle down and get your Arabic to fluent. Assuming you are at all competent at selling yourself and did not have straight Fs, you will see doors open if you can list fluent Arabic + T14 school on your resume.


OP here. I have to emphasize that "becoming fluent in Arabic" is much, much, easier said than done. At least for me, it is. I am really in awe of Americans who learn Arabic because I find it tedious and horrible and almost impossible. Basically, I could have had a very lucrative career without going to law school if I had wanted to develop those skills (and obviously that would have been the smarter thing to do, but hindsight is 20/20). Maybe I have some sort of weird psychological block, who knows! That said, I will certainly TRY this approach, but I know myself, and I know the language enough to know it will take me, personally, a very long time to reach where I need to be where I am comfortable telling a potential employer that I am fluent. I also question the usefulness of Arabic outside of certain jobs in the government context but that's another issue, I'll take any job I can get. I would much, much rather work as an English-speaking lawyer if it is at all possible. I know the reality of this economy is that I can't be picky, but it's going to take me forever to learn Modern Standard Arabic. Believe me, I've tried.
No one said that learning Arabic was easy. We're just saying that you should buckle down and get it done. With a credential like Arabic, you have the opportunity to achieve far more career-wise than your poor grades would ordinarily permit. I am also surprised that government is the only area in which you can imagine Arabic would give you a leg up. You need to do your homework because considering the longstanding and ever-increasing relevance of the middle east to western business, Arabic is useful for far more legal contexts than just government.

On a different note, I have to say that you don't sound very hungry to succeed and that probably explains both your grades and why you couldn't translate lots of applicable job experience + semifluency in a rare, important language + a degree from a prestigious school + diversity into a decent job. You need to ask yourself if you really have the drive and vision to build the best career available to you. Even being a successful solo practitioner takes drive and effort, especially in an area as complex as immigration law (assuming you don't want to be one of the many awful immigration lawyers who screw over unsuspecting immigrants). Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.


Well gee, thanks. Maybe I'm just discouraged, as opposed to a schmuck? Maybe, in an attempt to retain some dignity, I'm trying not to sound crazy/desperate/miserable on an anonymous internet forum but instead I came off as "not very hungry to succeed?" You certainly hit on something because that hurt, and I can't tell why you thought it would be a "helpful" comment. Have some compassion!

Torney12
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby Torney12 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Torney12 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Torney12 wrote:This right here is the advice I started to type out. Polish those Arabic skills! Arabic is probably tied with Mandarin as the important non-Western language to know in the global economy, and one of the most important languages to know period. It is also one of the most difficult to pick up. You have a major leg up on the competition because you are a native speaker. Being an immigration lawyer in the interim is fine, but it should absolutely be a priority for you to buckle down and get your Arabic to fluent. Assuming you are at all competent at selling yourself and did not have straight Fs, you will see doors open if you can list fluent Arabic + T14 school on your resume.


OP here. I have to emphasize that "becoming fluent in Arabic" is much, much, easier said than done. At least for me, it is. I am really in awe of Americans who learn Arabic because I find it tedious and horrible and almost impossible. Basically, I could have had a very lucrative career without going to law school if I had wanted to develop those skills (and obviously that would have been the smarter thing to do, but hindsight is 20/20). Maybe I have some sort of weird psychological block, who knows! That said, I will certainly TRY this approach, but I know myself, and I know the language enough to know it will take me, personally, a very long time to reach where I need to be where I am comfortable telling a potential employer that I am fluent. I also question the usefulness of Arabic outside of certain jobs in the government context but that's another issue, I'll take any job I can get. I would much, much rather work as an English-speaking lawyer if it is at all possible. I know the reality of this economy is that I can't be picky, but it's going to take me forever to learn Modern Standard Arabic. Believe me, I've tried.
No one said that learning Arabic was easy. We're just saying that you should buckle down and get it done. With a credential like Arabic, you have the opportunity to achieve far more career-wise than your poor grades would ordinarily permit. I am also surprised that government is the only area in which you can imagine Arabic would give you a leg up. You need to do your homework because considering the longstanding and ever-increasing relevance of the middle east to western business, Arabic is useful for far more legal contexts than just government.

On a different note, I have to say that you don't sound very hungry to succeed and that probably explains both your grades and why you couldn't translate lots of applicable job experience + semifluency in a rare, important language + a degree from a prestigious school + diversity into a decent job. You need to ask yourself if you really have the drive and vision to build the best career available to you. Even being a successful solo practitioner takes drive and effort, especially in an area as complex as immigration law (assuming you don't want to be one of the many awful immigration lawyers who screw over unsuspecting immigrants). Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.


Well gee, thanks. Maybe I'm just discouraged, as opposed to a schmuck? Maybe, in an attempt to retain some dignity, I'm trying not to sound crazy/desperate/miserable on an anonymous internet forum but instead I came off as "not very hungry to succeed?" You certainly hit on something because that hurt, and I can't tell why you thought it would be a "helpful" comment. Have some compassion!
I do not mean to be cruel or hurtful. I am just being frank. In fact, I find my response to be compassionate because if you gather your pride and rise to the occasion, as I am trying to encourage you to, then you will be much better off than if I had posted a "there there". Anyway, all I meant was that if you want to build a career in which you can feel secure and provide for your child, then you have to work very hard, keep a stiff upper lip through setbacks, and keep looking for ways to expand your skills. "It's not easy" is not a useful response. Life is not easy.

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cinephile
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby cinephile » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:57 am

If you speak Arabic because you have origins there (and in particular, if you still have family there) you will find it very, very difficult to get a government job as someone else suggested. The unfortunate reality is that they won't trust you if they feel you still have close ties.

09042014
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby 09042014 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:21 am

A lot of stupid shit in this thread.

1) No, the government doesn't need someone who is barely conversational at arabic. This is 11 years after 9-11, every kid and his mother who wanted to do international relations studied arabic. They aren't that hard up for translators that they'd resort to someone who isn't good at it.

2) The government will hire people who were even born abroad for some translating. You just won't get super high clearance.

3) Just start doing immigration work. Triple check everything. You've got connections, and it's a crisis. This is how people build a practice.

iconoclasttt
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Re: Is this a terribly stupid/insane idea?

Postby iconoclasttt » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:38 pm

OP, did you happen to take administrative law?

IMO (as a practicing attorney who deals regularly with another government agency), it's neither terribly stupid nor insane, provided you establish a support network of more experienced attorneys you can turn to when things get complex.

There are lots of resources out there for learning a new practice area--not having taken the class is hardly a lifetime bar. Talking with other immigration attorneys is probably the best way to figure out how to get started.




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