Hi, my name is Alex George and I serve as an Associate Attorney at McEntee Law Group. I have been at McEntee Law for 4 years. (*Alex no longer works at McEntee Law Group, but her article is still an accurate picture of the life of an immigration attorney!)
Read on for the day in the life of an immigration attorney…
How You Got to Your Current Job: I started as a Law Clerk during my first year of law school. I stayed on all through law school, passed the bar, and was sworn into the Illinois bar in 2019. I now work with our Case Managers on a wide variety of case types, from marriage-based green cards to visas and green cards for immigrants with extraordinary abilities.
Describe a typical day:
7:00: Alarm goes off. I hit snooze at least twice.
7:30: Drag myself out of bed and let my dog outside. Penny is a 60-pound Mountain Cur, a popular watchdog breed. She does laps around the yard to secure the perimeter while I make coffee and get dressed. I’m still working from home most days, so, fortunately, I only need to look like a lawyer from the waist up.
8:30: I spend at least half an hour on email. Our clients are all over the world, so it’s their primary means of communication with us. Most of these emails contain “quick” questions. They might be quick to ask, but they usually take research to answer. Immigration policy is in constant flux, travel restrictions keep changing as pandemic conditions change, and every U.S. Embassy abroad does things a little differently. We’re about 8 hours behind most of our clients who are abroad, so I start with an email to make sure nothing urgent came up overnight. If something is urgent, I have to put that day’s plans to the side to resolve it. I work with clients to gather evidence for their cases, troubleshoot legal issues, and prepare clients for interviews with USCIS.
9:00-12:30: Assuming there are no emergencies that morning, I check in with our Case Managers about the cases we’re working on together. We have to divide and conquer because there are certain tasks that only a licensed attorney can do, and frankly, there are many tasks that they do better than me. I have to manage my time carefully so I can do potential client consultations, give current clients legal advice, and review cases for filing with USCIS.
I take calls with engaged couples, newlyweds, aspiring citizens, and potential employers who want to sponsor employees for immigration benefits. I take turns with our other attorneys co-hosting virtual immigration clinics with Irish Community Services Midwest to help foreign nationals assess their immigration options.
I collaborate with our entire team to improve our client intake and case management processes. In law school, I completed the Legal Innovation & Technology Certificate program, so I’m passionate about using technology to improve everything from client intake to case preparation to status monitoring.
1:00-1:30: I try to step away for lunch, though I’m not great at taking breaks during the day. If the weather allows I’ll take Penny for a quick walk around the neighborhood.
1:30-EOD: The afternoon looks a lot like the morning. It’s a mix of phone calls, emails, messages with our team, and casework.
The afternoon is when I try to set blocks of time for deep work, usually drafting. When we apply for an O-1 visa, we submit a very long letter of support to make all the legal arguments and contextualize all the evidence to support their case. These letters average 20-40 pages, and our average O-1 case is about 10 pounds of paper, so they take dedicated time and concentration.
Because I’ve been with the firm for several years, members of our team reach out to me throughout the day to help troubleshoot everything from tech questions to potential client inquiries
I also draft blog posts and advise on content for our firm’s social media. I also make TikToks about immigration on my own account (@alextheattorney), but that’s done on nights and weekends, so I don’t make as many as I’d like.
EOD: This time really varies depending on what’s going on, but I either log off or take a longer break around 5:30 or 6. I’ll reheat whatever I was able to meal prep over the weekend, usually from an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (10/10, would highly recommend their meal planning book).
On that break or after work, I’ll try to get a workout in by walking Penny or playing Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch. It sounds funny, but the workouts can be as intense as you want them to be
In summary: While the tasks I work on daily are usually in the same format (emails, letter drafts, Zoom calls, etc.), no two days are the same. One of my favorite things about working in immigration law is that there’s always a new challenge to tackle and something new to learn. The best days are when we get approval notices and when clients send me updates on what they’re doing with their lives. I love seeing photos of airport reunions, weddings, and citizenship oath ceremonies, so if you’re one of our clients, know that I always appreciate it when you take the time to send them. Immigration law is challenging work, but I’m happy to be a small part of each person’s journey in the U.S., and I’m grateful that I face those challenges with such a great team.
*For an updated version of this “day in the life” with one of our current attorneys, click HERE.