Blog Entry 7
Every area of law practice probably has it's one moment of shining glory. The transaction is closed, the bridge is built, the defendant is found guilty or innocent. For Immigration Law, the best moment is when an immigrant for whom you have worked for many years becomes a U.S. Citizen.
Just yesterday, a longstanding client of the Immigration Law Clinic became a U.S. Citizen at a ceremony at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Detroit. Students represented her through the long process of applying for asylum eight years ago, pushed for her children to be able to join her in the U.S., processed the paperwork needed for her to get a green card five years ago, and then prepared her for the citizenship examination and celebrated with her when she passed on the first try. Some of the students who worked on her case in the beginning are now practicing immigration attorneys.
Students helped her to gain asylum and, ultimately, citizenship in her adopted country but, in a real sense, students and I did much more than that. We walked with her on her journey as she moved out of the shelter, found and furnished an apartment, worked three jobs to pay the rent and to send for her children, and learned English and U.S. civics and history. I attended her nephew's wedding and stop by the family business when I am in the neighborhood. I know her and her family better than I know some of my own family members.
My students and I are not unique in this familiarity with our clients. One of the many blessings of being a lawyer is getting to know people, developing relationships built on trust and mutual admiration. Most senior lawyers will look back on their careers and not think about the fees they charged but the people they helped and how their hard work made someone else's life a little bit better. Students in the clinics at UDM learn how precious clients are and how to forge strong ties with clients.