AILA members are sharing their first person accounts of life and work at the moment – if you’re an AILA member, please email your 400-800 word submission to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Thank you for all you do!
It’s a Saturday in May – I need to triple check the date in the corner of my laptop because the days somehow blend together. I’m sitting at my kitchen table/office, looking at my fiancée, who is working across from me in her own “office” at the same kitchen table. Out my apartment/office building window, I’m lucky enough to see Miami spreading for miles to the north, with Biscayne Bay to the east. Behind me is my client filing cabinet/personal bookshelf, wherein sits Ira Kurzban’s Sourcebook next to a novel from my favorite author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera. I suppose this is immigration law in the time of COVID-19.
I’ve been an attorney for 7 years, practicing primarily in the immigration sphere. For the last 3.5 years, I’ve worked for the law firm Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli & Pratt P.A. My experience at the firm has been a wild, exciting ride of cross-country appearances and filings under tight deadlines, replete with a motley crew of clients who I’ve learned from, and laughed with. But nothing could have prepared me for emergency bond hearings at the onset of a pandemic, or the seeming evaporation, overnight, of many areas of immigration law. The last 2 months have been surreal. That we’re all in this together doesn’t seem to make it any less so.
Every day I wake up feeling a bit dazed. But I also wonder why I feel adrift. After all, I have a great job, lots of work, and I get to stay home with the one I love. Perhaps, I contemplate, this entire experience is the beginning of something great, a cataclysmic shift in the work-life balance that shows everyone – myself included – that lawyers can achieve the same success from their kitchen table as they can from an office building. If so, then at least the pandemic will have a silver lining. In some ways, it already has, what with immigration courts (finally!) accepting electronic filings. What will 6 more months of pandemic practice bring? If cable news is any indication, probably some good, bad, and ugly.
For the first few weeks of the pandemic, I couldn’t help but be seized by the irrational feeling that I had an obligation to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue something new. I knew that the feeling was a luxury of having (a little) free time, and I knew it was irrational, but I couldn’t shake it. So I bought some gear and started a podcast. I’m now spending my weekends holed-up at my kitchen table/office, discussing each week’s precedential immigration decisions. The podcast is called Immigration Review, and can be found on BuzzSprout, in addition to all major podcast platforms.
It’s been a lot of work, but it’s exciting. If nothing else, I hope it gives immigration attorneys something to smile about during this pandemic. I know that I, for one, needed it.