Immigration law for a white guy

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eagle2a

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Immigration law for a white guy

Postby eagle2a » Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:48 am

White male who does not speak any foreign languages but am interested in practicing immigration law in Texas. Bad idea? Currently a law student at uh/smu with a decent amount (summer/school year internships) of experience in the field

cavalier1138

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 7:21 am

My understanding of immigration law is that it's a field where you have to be 100% dedicated to it, not just interested. And yes, I think not speaking Spanish in Texas immigration practice would be insane.

rdawkins28

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby rdawkins28 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 9:19 am

I don't practice immigration law, but my impression of it is that the pay isn't that great, unless you do stuff like the Alien Entrepreneur program where your clients are loaded.

And I've met a few white immigration lawyers who don't speak foreign languages. Sometimes immigrants have bad experiences with lawyers from their motherland or similar ethnicity, so they default to the white-guy lawyer.

In fact, I have a former client who's having an immigration Application for Cancellation of Removal hearing in a few weeks. He's being represented by a white-guy lawyer. We all speak to each other in English. If you're in the Dallas area, send me a message. You're more than welcomed to come watch it. And I'm sure the immigration lawyer wouldn't have any problem talking to you.

And yes, knowing Spanish would help.

FutureLitigator

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby FutureLitigator » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:23 am

You can just hire a paralegal (later on a lawyer that does) that speaks Spanish. Aside from being the lawyer on one's behalf, the paralegal is the one that does mostly everything. Immigration Law is mostly forms, even the contracts insinuate that the payment is only to help file and doesn't assure any representation in removal proceedings or in the appeal process. Once your practice splurges you only meet with the client when evaluating the case and telling them the fee then the paralegal immediately takes over and reassures him everything prior to signing a contract, and sets him up with a lawyer that takes over the case. Which she will still mostly be the main person that does everything and talks to the client, unless you have case specific questions for the lawyer (which they will be able to and try to answer anyway, you have to directly ask to speak to the lawyer) & If they don't know English, the paralegal just translates everything you said, which she most likely didn't need need you saying it to know the answer, anyway. You're just the face of the firm.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jul 09, 2016 11:28 am

White isn't a problem. Lack of foreign languages isn't great (yes, you can hire Spanish-speaker to translate for you, but honestly I think the model described above is kind of crappy. Just because there are lawyers that operate that way doesn't mean you want to). A possibility would be to get into business immigration, where you're working for companies that want to make sure their employees are getting into the country and working legally - you'd likely interact more with the employer than the employees.

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White Dwarf

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby White Dwarf » Sat Jul 09, 2016 11:33 am

Conversational Spanish is really easy to learn. Being able to write fluently is another story, but if all you need is to be able to converse with clients, you could become competent in a couple months.

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kellyfrost

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby kellyfrost » Sat Jul 09, 2016 11:39 am

Check this law firm out, although he speaks Spanish according to his website.

http://www.jessuplawfirm.com/mobile/ind ... tive_btn=1
Last edited by kellyfrost on Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Effingham

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby Effingham » Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:08 pm

rdawkins28 wrote:I don't practice immigration law, but my impression of it is that the pay isn't that great, unless you do stuff like the Alien Entrepreneur program where your clients are loaded.

And I've met a few white immigration lawyers who don't speak foreign languages. Sometimes immigrants have bad experiences with lawyers from their motherland or similar ethnicity, so they default to the white-guy lawyer.

In fact, I have a former client who's having an immigration Application for Cancellation of Removal hearing in a few weeks. He's being represented by a white-guy lawyer. We all speak to each other in English. If you're in the Dallas area, send me a message. You're more than welcomed to come watch it. And I'm sure the immigration lawyer wouldn't have any problem talking to you.

And yes, knowing Spanish would help.


This person seems pretty awesome to volunteer to do this op, you should take them up on their offer. Love seeing helpful stuff like this on here.

eagle2a

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby eagle2a » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:45 am

Appreciate the input, should I start looking at other fields or start taking spanish classes?

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Sprout

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby Sprout » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:47 am

eagle2a wrote:Appreciate the input, should I start looking at other fields or start taking spanish classes?

Spanish is easy to learn, esp if you live in TX and can practice. If you're passionate for immigration enough to learn it, go for it. Why not?

jimmythecatdied6

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby jimmythecatdied6 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:46 pm

Sprout wrote:
eagle2a wrote:Appreciate the input, should I start looking at other fields or start taking spanish classes?

Spanish is easy to learn, esp if you live in TX and can practice. If you're passionate for immigration enough to learn it, go for it. Why not?


yeh... learning an entire language and understanding all of the different accents well enough to be a proficient Spanish speaker is sooooo easy to do. Jesus Christ some of you people.

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Sprout

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby Sprout » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:53 pm

jimmythecatdied6 wrote:
Sprout wrote:
eagle2a wrote:Appreciate the input, should I start looking at other fields or start taking spanish classes?

Spanish is easy to learn, esp if you live in TX and can practice. If you're passionate for immigration enough to learn it, go for it. Why not?


yeh... learning an entire language and understanding all of the different accents well enough to be a proficient Spanish speaker is sooooo easy to do. Jesus Christ some of you people.

I mean, relatively speaking obviously. If you're going to learn a foreign language, Spanish is one of the easier ones as a native English speaker.
Also I am not sure what you mean about "understanding all the different accents". Thought OP was talking about working immigration law in TX. A basic grasp of Latin American Spanish would be totally sufficient for this. Not sure why OP would need to learn weird Spaniard slang or vosotros conjugations in Texas. Even so, accents are really not that different. At most, inflections are different based on country, and Spanish-speaking people tend to be rather friendly to American English-speakers that attempt to speak their language. I've had no problems when trying to communicate with people who speak a bit too rapidly or in an accent that I am not used to to simply please speak a little slower. Just saying, all things considered, Spanish is probably one of the easier languages to learn. People do it all the time.

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poptart123

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby poptart123 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:03 pm

,
Last edited by poptart123 on Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

tomwatts

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby tomwatts » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:59 pm

Sprout wrote:
jimmythecatdied6 wrote:
Sprout wrote:
eagle2a wrote:Appreciate the input, should I start looking at other fields or start taking spanish classes?

Spanish is easy to learn, esp if you live in TX and can practice. If you're passionate for immigration enough to learn it, go for it. Why not?


yeh... learning an entire language and understanding all of the different accents well enough to be a proficient Spanish speaker is sooooo easy to do. Jesus Christ some of you people.

I mean, relatively speaking obviously. If you're going to learn a foreign language, Spanish is one of the easier ones as a native English speaker.

Just to back this up, Spanish is Category I. A few hours a day most days of the week for the better part of a year will get you basically fluent, and you'll get decent conversational Spanish well before that. If you wanted to learn, say, Arabic or Chinese, it would take a lot more time/effort, but Spanish is relatively easy.

cavalier1138

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:23 am

jimmythecatdied6 wrote:
Sprout wrote:
eagle2a wrote:Appreciate the input, should I start looking at other fields or start taking spanish classes?

Spanish is easy to learn, esp if you live in TX and can practice. If you're passionate for immigration enough to learn it, go for it. Why not?


yeh... learning an entire language and understanding all of the different accents well enough to be a proficient Spanish speaker is sooooo easy to do. Jesus Christ some of you people.


As has been pointed out, immigration lawyers don't need to be able to read Cervantes. They just need to be able to communicate well with clients. And in Texas, that means that basic conversational Spanish and the ability to understand the Mexican accent will do just fine. They aren't going to have a lot of people from Panama asking them to discuss high-level philosophy. It's actually even easier to get relatively fluent when you only need to talk about one subject with people.

And yes, Spanish is easier for English-speakers to pick up than a lot of other languages, since it still follows most of the basic rules of Engilsh (subject, verb, etc.) and has all the same parts of speech. Mandarin, for example, would be harder to learn and easier to mess up.

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pancakes3

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:47 am

well i think the language requirements are different if you're working at a firm that does immigration with support staff vs going solo.

you might not even need spanish if you're going to be working at Fragomen but if you're going solo, you don't need to just do intake, you've got to be able to make sense of their documents (birth/marriage certificates, medical records, police/criminal records, etc.) all by yourself.

katalina1

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby katalina1 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:57 am

White but Spanish-speaking immigration paralegal/future lawyer here.

You should be skeptical of anyone who tells you that you only need conversational Spanish to practice as an immigration attorney. While you do not necessarily need perfect grammar to do this work, you do need an extensive vocabulary that has taken me years to accumulate. I work with Spanish speakers all day every day, who describe to me in detail their backgrounds, relationships, traumas, etc. Particularly in asylum cases, details are CRUCIAL. For a long time, I felt very nervous that I'd miss something while "practicing" my Spanish on a client. In order to get to the level that I am now, I've lived and worked in 2 different Latin American countries for a year in total. I've studied it since I was a teenager. Every non-native Spanish speaker I've ever encountered who does this work has previously lived in a Spanish-speaking country, even if it was for only 6 months.

We have attorneys at my organization that do not speak Spanish, including my supervisor. They rely heavily on paralegals, interns, etc. to translate for them. At a non-profit, this means two people doing work that could be done by one person. It's a big burden.

As other people said, there are two kinds of immigration law: business immigration, which requires no language skills, and family/defense against deportation, which effectively requires Spanish (or, if you are in an area heavy with other immigrants, such as Chinese, Haitians, etc., then it will require those languages). I do not know what interest you, but Texas in particular is desperately in need of low and no-cost immigration lawyers doing deportation defense work. It's not well-paid (people on these boards seem convinced that money is the only factor that makes a job worth doing), but it's important as hell. Good luck.

BeachBear

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby BeachBear » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:38 pm

I'm actually summering at an immigration firm right now, and being white can actually be helpful if you get into the right field. Say EB-5 immigration. Although you probably need a partner that speaks either mandarin/cantonese, Russian, or Arabic. I have found that Asian clients like to have white lawyers handle their case, even if he/she doesn't speak the language.

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Hildegard15

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby Hildegard15 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:50 pm

katalina1 wrote:White but Spanish-speaking immigration paralegal/future lawyer here.

You should be skeptical of anyone who tells you that you only need conversational Spanish to practice as an immigration attorney. While you do not necessarily need perfect grammar to do this work, you do need an extensive vocabulary that has taken me years to accumulate. I work with Spanish speakers all day every day, who describe to me in detail their backgrounds, relationships, traumas, etc. Particularly in asylum cases, details are CRUCIAL. For a long time, I felt very nervous that I'd miss something while "practicing" my Spanish on a client. In order to get to the level that I am now, I've lived and worked in 2 different Latin American countries for a year in total. I've studied it since I was a teenager. Every non-native Spanish speaker I've ever encountered who does this work has previously lived in a Spanish-speaking country, even if it was for only 6 months.

We have attorneys at my organization that do not speak Spanish, including my supervisor. They rely heavily on paralegals, interns, etc. to translate for them. At a non-profit, this means two people doing work that could be done by one person. It's a big burden.

As other people said, there are two kinds of immigration law: business immigration, which requires no language skills, and family/defense against deportation, which effectively requires Spanish (or, if you are in an area heavy with other immigrants, such as Chinese, Haitians, etc., then it will require those languages). I do not know what interest you, but Texas in particular is desperately in need of low and no-cost immigration lawyers doing deportation defense work. It's not well-paid (people on these boards seem convinced that money is the only factor that makes a job worth doing), but it's important as hell. Good luck.


I'm also currently an immigration paralegal and I would second the above poster's comments regarding the language skills. It takes a lot more than just "conversational" Spanish skills to effectively serve your clients if you are working in family petitions, deportation defense, asylum, consular processing, etc. Being able to communicate clearly about very technical concepts can be crucial. Everyone working at my firm is required to be a 7/10 on a fluency scale.

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poptart123

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby poptart123 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:58 pm

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Last edited by poptart123 on Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:09 pm

I think some of the "just have conversational Spanish bro" comes from the fact that there are a lot of crappy immigration attorneys who fit this model. To be clear, there are tons of excellent immigration attorneys, too, doing amazing work. But I feel like it's a field where it's easy to get things wrong and take advantage of people, if you're unethical.

Keilz

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby Keilz » Tue Jul 19, 2016 2:45 pm

You can also work in corporate immigration, where you don't really need/use a second language. I'm a paralegal now and everything's in English.

HonestAdvice

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby HonestAdvice » Tue Jul 19, 2016 3:24 pm

Don't know much about immigration law, but studied a lot of history on African American lawyers and there aren't necessarily intergroup preferences when it comes to hiring lawyers. It's likely many Spanish speaking immigrants who have faced discrimination will prefer a white lawyer because they see white lawyers as being more prestigious and are worried Spanish speaking lawyers will be discriminated against and hurt their case. That said, if you can't speak to your clients, you can't expect to have many clients.

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Desert Fox

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby Desert Fox » Tue Jul 19, 2016 3:29 pm

White guy isn't a problem. I think not speaking Spanish is a huge problem because getting a translator each time is expensive.

Why bother? Immigration is pure shitlaw.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

Redfactor

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Re: Immigration law for a white guy

Postby Redfactor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:19 pm

Desert Fox wrote:White guy isn't a problem. I think not speaking Spanish is a huge problem because getting a translator each time is expensive.

Why bother? Immigration is pure shitlaw.


Wow, rarely does someone so bluntly trash an area of law that actually helps people carry out beneficial tasks.

You know that M&A is soooo noble while helping some modest person live with loved ones... pure shitlaw.

You sound like a delightful person : \



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