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United States > Labor and employment > Immigration > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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  1. Immigration
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

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Specialist immigration firm Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP provides ‘excellent service in all areas - knowledge, response time, advice, value and all-round service to employees’. One of the world’s largest firms dedicated solely to corporate immigration, it has a total of 16 US partners, led by Dallas-based managing partner Jeremy Fudge. The department has particular experience of representing clients in the oil and gas sector - the Houston office was engaged as the sole strategic immigration partner to a leading oil and gas exploration and production company and the practice also handles all North American work for the largest drilling rig contractor in Canada. Founding partner David Berry in San Francisco is responsible for managing a new client relationship with one of the world’s leading aerospace companies and developing a management structure to support its ongoing programs. Another name to note is Lynden Melmed, a former Citizenship and Immigration Services Chief Counsel at the Department of Homeland Security who splits his time between Washington DC and the firm’s McLean office. Delya Ghosh and Larry Drumm, both situated in San Francisco, were promoted to the partnership.

Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy has developed into a market-leading global immigration law firm with 40 offices in 20 countries. New York-based Austin Fragomen - who has testified before Congress on immigration matters - is one of the firm’s heavyweight figures, along with Daryl Buffenstein in Atlanta and San Francisco-based Cynthia Lange, who leads the hi-tech practice. The group provides a full scope of immigration services, which includes handling business visitor visas, investor applications, governmental relations, and export control advice. Michael Patrick in New York has a focus on risk management of global immigration programs, as well as due diligence for corporate restructuring and policy development. The Boston office is managed by Scott FitzGerald, who is very involved in the firm’s India-focused practice; Michael Turansick heads the Chicago office and Andrew Greenfield is managing partner of the Washington DC office. Bo Cooper, also based in Washington DC, is another notable name along with Matawan-based Lance Kaplan. Steven Ladik, who divides his time between Dallas and Houston, is a well-respected name for sports immigration, acting for athletes, teams and leagues.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s ‘excellent’ business immigration group is ‘extremely responsive, competent and efficient’, and conveys ‘a feeling of true partnership’. James King and Russell Swapp co-chair the practice, which prides itself on being tech-savvy: partners invest significant time and resources developing systems and databases that deliver immigration management programs to clients. King manages the immigration team in Atlanta and advises international clients on issues including Form I-9 and E-Verify proceedings, while serves on the Immigration Subcommittee of the US Chamber of Commerce. The practice is known for its customized work permit management programs, which it sets up for US corporations with the help of a document automation platform that delivers a highly customized output. The recommended Angelo Paparelli has represented various clients in the EB-5 investor green card program. Boston-based Gabriel Mozes was promoted to partner.

Akerman LLP’s Florida-based immigration practice assists clients in all immigration matters, such as the case preparation and legal analysis of corporate, NIV, and PERM immigration transactions, I-9 immigration compliance and the EB-5 program. The practice is co-led by Michael Benchetrit and Thomas Raleigh. Benchetrit has developed a niche practice centered around the immigration needs of Israeli companies seeking to access the US market, while Raleigh serves as the firm’s market entry coordinator and assists public companies, sports teams, investors and professionals in obtaining US work authorization, preparing petitions, and applications with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Embassies overseas. The practice has wide-ranging industry knowledge, but is particularly active in the hospitality sector, where it acts for a number of Florida country clubs, such as The Everglades Club in Palm Beach, The Westchester Country Club and Glenview Country Club. Other clients include Coldstone Creamery and Somfy Systems. Scott Bettridge joined Fox Rothschild LLP.

Duane Morris LLP’s immigration lawyers provide ‘excellent’ response times, which are ‘only exceeded by their in-depth knowledge of immigration laws and regulations’. ‘Excellent attorney’ Denyse Sabagh heads the broad-ranging practice, which handles all immigration matters, ranging from visas to training workshops, representation before immigration authorities, waivers and litigation. Its acts for publicly traded and private corporations alike, including large multinationals right through to start-up ventures in various industries, notably including information technology, biotechnology, security and telecoms. Universities, embassies, religious organizations, and a range of non-profit entities are also part of the client roster. San Francisco-based Lisa Spiegel is another key figure, whose recent work includes handling PERM applications, as well as numerous E-3 and TN applications.

Foster LLP was established in Texas and maintains offices in Houston, Austin and Rio Grande Valley, as well as in Mexico City. Houston-based chairman Charles Foster has a long history of representing clients in EB-5 matters and heads the firm’s investor visa practice; the firm as a whole has a high standing in the field of obtaining EB-5 visas for high-net-worth individuals and has advised entrepreneurs on developing and structuring US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)-approved regional centers. Other notable names are Austin-based Robert Loughran and Houston-based Nestor Rosin. The group often works in conjunction with law firms internationally to advise clients on global immigration matters and handle PERM applications and consular immigration. It also assists with employer sanctions and risk management strategies, as well as helping its corporate clients in adapting to the new US Customs and Border Control procedure for processing I-94 records and consulting companies in preparing consular visas.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s clients praise the ‘excellent’ service level supplied by a ‘dedicated team that fully understands our complex business model’. It advises multinational corporations on employment-related immigration issues, represents businesses, organizations and individuals on EB-5 matters and is active in the field of M&A, where it recently advised numerous clients on how to structure deals that enable successor companies to continue to employ foreign national workers in compliance with US immigration law. Laura Reiff and Martha Schoonover co-chair the practice, which recently recruited nine associates. Other key figures to note are Kate Kalmykov, who splits her practice between New York and New Jersey, Atlanta-based Ian Macdonald and McLean-based Pamela Mak, who is experienced in due diligence relating to M&A and restructuring.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s ‘level of expertise, responsiveness and client-oriented approach to providing advice is unparalleled’. The New York-based department of nine acts for companies and organisations in all phases of the hiring and transfer of foreign nationals, such as executives, managers, professionals, investors and performing artists. Mark Koestler and Ted Ruthizer, who has ‘thorough knowledge of the industry and work immigration field’, lead the team of ‘practical problem-solvers’. Ruthizer - who acts for clients across finance, technology, insurance, advertising, consumer brands, media and the arts - recently advised a global insurance company on its compliance with immigration requirements. Koestler represents advertising agencies, banks and other financial institutions, hedge funds and corporations, as well as some of the leading US theater companies; he recently acted for a financial services company and its subsidiaries on all aspects of employing foreign nationals in the US. New York-based Matthew Dunn regularly acts for companies facing I-9 audits.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.’s Boston-based immigration practice acts for corporate clients as well as entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, and individuals seeking to live and work in the US, handling representation before various government agencies, including US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department and the Department of Labor. It advises companies on immigration matters arising from M&A mergers helps to develop best-practice compliance policies for global mobility programs. As the universities of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are close by, the firm regularly acts for MBA program graduates. The department has an excellent reputation for handling pro bono political asylum work. Practice chair Susan Cohen is considered a thought-leader in immigration law and often represents clients before government agencies including USCIS and the State Department. Douglas Hauer and Reena Thadhani are other names to note.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s immigration group, which is spread across the firm’s Washington DC, Boston and San Francisco offices, is jointly led by James Vázquez-Azpiri in San Francisco and Eleanor Pelta in Washington DC. Vázquez-Azpiri represents Samsung Research America in a wide range of US and global immigration matters, such as obtaining green cards for highly qualified employees through the US’ outstanding researcher and Schedule A, Group II programs. The department also handles Brocade’s immigration due diligence with respect to international corporate acquisitions and assisted Samsung Semiconductor in the development of an immigration program and the creation of an employment verification system, as well as handling all of Seagate’s global mobility immigration work after the company has undertaken an expansion of its global talent needs with consequently greater inbound and outbound employee mobility. Another important client is Fujitsu, which the firm is advising in regard to its intracompany transfer program. Other clients include Sony Computer Entertainment America and JCPenney. Mark Matthews moved to Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s Newark-based immigration and nationality practice provides guidance on visas, waivers and certifications, as well as the full range of immigration issues affecting international businesses, including corporate immigration policies, guidance on avoiding unlawful practices, compliance with record keeping, and anti-discrimination provisions. David Grunblatt and senior associate Praveena Nallainathan jointly head the department. Nallainathan manages the immigration programs for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (Clinton Foundation), The New York Times, Markit Group Limited and Broadridge Financial Solutions. The firm’s high-profile and broad-ranging client base also includes Coach, HSBC USA, Major League Baseball, and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Baker McKenzie LLP operates ‘at the highest level of professionalism’. In addition to handling the full scope of US and global immigration services, the practice assists in specialty matters relating to critical enforcement trends - including worksite compliance, best practices for business visitor travel, integrated preventative protocols and VIP executive transfer services. The practice manages US and multi-jurisdictional projects for clients such as AGCO Corporation, Caterpillar, CFA Institute, and T. Rowe Price. Washington DC-based Shannon Donnelly leads the team managing the Royal Bank of Canada’s full US, Canada, Europe and Australia immigration portfolio, which includes handling several hundred visa candidates per year, developing global visa solutions for corporate executives and technical professionals, as well as managing the bank’s permanent residency and compliance needs. In Chicago, practice head Betsy Morgan has ‘the ability to see the bigger picture and always works to find ways to improve’ and Ginger Partee is also a key name.

Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.’s ‘excellent’ immigration group is ‘always available to discuss issues and is knowledgeable and informative’. The department, led by New York-based Robert Groban, has a broad-ranging practice, which includes assisting its public and private sector clients with applications and investigations involving various bureaus within the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Department of Labor and the Department of State. Newark-based Patrick Brady handles and counsels the MAN group on all immigration matters enabling its companies to bring foreign workers to perform managerial and technical services in the US. Brady also acts for Schindler Group in regard to all immigration matters. New York-based Pierre Georges Bonnefil acts as immigration counsel to the French Consulate in New York City and regularly assist it with sensitive immigration matters. Newark-based Jungmin Choi was made partner.

Clients report being ‘very pleased’ with Ford & Harrison LLP’s ‘response times, industry knowledge and understanding of immigration law’. The practice is comprehensive and has substantial experience in advising and representing start-ups, as well as more established companies. Key figures include practice head Geetha Nadiminti Adinata, who is based in Los Angeles, as well as Mary Pivec in Washington DC and Charles Roach in Minneapolis. Adinata was retained by a leading furniture retailer to conduct internal I-9 audits and represented a major provider of staffing services during Department of Homeland Security I-9 audits, successfully negotiating a reduced fine. Roach collaborated with the second largest US healthcare charity to obtain foreign talent and highly skilled professionals through temporary visas and employment-based green cards; the department also assisted high-net-worth individuals with EB-5 Investor permanent visas and advised hospitals on leverage federal and state J-1 waiver programs and H-1B visa programs to recruit and retain foreign physicians committed to serve in medically underserved communities.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s ‘very strong’ group gives advice that is ‘detail-oriented and always backed by in-depth knowledge’. The Washington DC-based practice is led by Beth Peters and Aleksandar Dukic. Peters regularly provides legal and policy advice on legislative initiatives affecting international trade and immigration matters. Dukic assists clients in various industries in sponsoring individuals for immigrant and non-immigrant visa status, as well as on export certifications, I-9 verifications, E-Verify, audits and other compliance matters under immigration regulations. Dean & Company and its affiliated entity DC Energy Management retained Dukic to obtain authorization of its foreign national employees to work in the US, both for temporary non-immigrant visas and permanent residency cards. Akelius Real Estate is a new client and Dr. Pepper, National Geographic Society and Snapchat also call on the firm for its immigration law services.

Omaha-based Amy Peck and Reston-based Michael Neifach co-chair Jackson Lewis P.C.’s immigration group, which typically handles visa filings for temporary and permanent employees, compliance issues and, in cooperation with the employment group, preventative strategies for its impressive list of clients. Another focus is immigration litigation. Other key figures are William Manning, Sean Hanagan and Marko Maglich, and Austin-based Maggie Murphy. All lawyers mentioned are based in White Plains, New York unless noted otherwise. Kevin Lashus has moved to FisherBroyles, LLP.

Mayer Brown’s immigration group has a ‘business-led service in a very data-driven, commercial and pragmatic manner’. Washington DC-based Elizabeth Espín Stern - who is ‘an inspiration, a catalyst for innovation and exciting to work with’ - leads the firm’s global mobility and migration practice group, which also includes Grace Shie and Paul Virtue. The scope of the practice covers visa and residency applications, management and compliance, and includes an early warning system for risks tied to changes in immigration law. Stern is part of a team that continues to manage American Express’ immigration program, including advisory and consultative services, preparation and filing of visa and work permit applications, development of international staffing strategies and expedited solutions for senior executives and management of immigration-related compliance. The same team also manages CoStar’s global mobility needs, including the full range of visa transactions for employees globally. The broad-ranging client roster also includes Bank Leumi Le-Israel, Princeton International School of Mathematics & Science and Research Now.

The ‘excellent’ immigration group at McDermott Will & Emery LLP is ‘most reliable, punctual and always available’. The practice encompasses the full spectrum of immigration services and, besides the core visa service, has a particular focus on immigration compliance, especially with respect to government audits. The client roster includes multinational and domestic clients, among them Sonar Entertainment, Studio Daniel Libeskind and The Clinton Foundation, as well as various foreign entertainers and artists. The team recently obtained special visas for a group of teenage boys from Nigeria after they witnessed a murder of a teammate while traveling to the US to play in a youth soccer league. New York-based practice head Joan-Elisse Carpentier is ‘highly responsive, experienced and 100% involved in matter’. Her recent work includes representing Spanish dancer Eila Valls Domenech in successfully procuring the appropriate visas for her to enter the US.

Arnall Golden Gregory LLP’s practice group regularly procures employment-based temporary and permanent visas, handles workforce compliance issues such as Form I-9, E-Verify and related audits and investigations, as well as immigration-related tax and import/export controls compliance. The group cooperates with the immigration division of the Employment Law Alliance on global mobility issues. The Washington DC office, where Montserrat Miller is a key figure, has a particular focus on regulatory compliance, as well as related practices, including white-collar crime.

San Antonio-based Victoria Garcia is the main contact in Bracewell LLP’s immigration practice, which provides clients with legal guidance regarding business immigration matters, such as responding to audits, inquiries and investigations by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor and complying with US labor and immigration laws on the hiring, retention and management of workforces, as well as utilizing the E-2 and EB-5 investor options as a strategy for raising capital and obtaining permanent residency. Garcia represents Valero Energy, NuStar GP Holdings, CST Brands and CST Services in all matters related to immigration, including the preparation of H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, TN and other non-immigrant visas. Houston-based senior counsel Nelli Nikova has substantial experience with employment-based non-immigrant visas for alien employees, including O-1 exceptional abilities and H-1 specialty occupation.

Boston-based immigration specialist firm Chin & Curtis LLP assists a wide range of clients - from multinationals to start-ups and NGOs - in corporate immigration matters, such as compliance issues, temporary employment visas, the drafting of internal immigration policies and permanent residency applications. Managing partner and co-founder Philip Curtis has a broad range of experience in family-based immigration, naturalization, worksite compliance, as well as federal and state litigation. Sarah Coleman and Lorie Lunn are other names to note.

Matthew Schulz leads Dentons’ global mobility group from the Silicon Valley office. The firm’s recent absorption of McKenna Long & Aldridge reinforced the practice, notably including the arrival of James Levine. The practice handles all business non-immigrant and immigrant visas for temporary business visitors and those seeking permanent residency who bring extraordinary ability, professional experience, business investment and religious training. The team is assisting a global agribusiness in moving personnel to sites by handling visas for key management and research staff in California, Mexico, China and the European Union. The team recently assisted biotech company Zymergen with obtaining visas for research staff.

Fisher & Phillips’ Atlanta-based immigration practice handles a broad range of immigration matters, from compliance and enforcement to the pre-processing of application materials and coordination of consular procedures for the transfer of employees. Practice head Kim Thompson handles extensive visa work and compliance with Form I-9, including government audits of I-9 forms and discrimination and document abuse provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. In order to manage I-9 risks, the department cooperates with an external company to provide clients with an online I-9 verification system. The practice, which also includes key figures Shanon Stevenson and Jessica Cook, is frequently instructed to advise on O-1 visas for athletes, scientific researchers, as well as individuals employed by manufacturing and aerospace companies. Jocelyn Campanaro and Angelica Ochoa joined the team from Ogletree Deakins.

Andrew Merrills chairs the immigration department at Ogletree Deakins. The team secured the approval of an I-140 EB-1 Outstanding Researcher immigrant visa petition in two days on behalf of a mining company. New York-based Maria Fernanda Gandarez obtained swift approval (within seven days of filing) of an O-1 Extraordinary Ability visa for a British hair stylist without a request for additional evidence by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Jocelyn Campanaro and Angelica Ochoa joined Fisher & Phillips, while Robert Seiger moved to Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP.

The ‘outstandingPryor Cashman LLP provides clients with ‘the most appropriate, pragmatic advice with both the company’s and employees’ best interests at heart’. The department has a particular focus on sports immigration law; it is one of the few firms in New York offering specialized immigration counsel to foreign athletes. Colleen Caden heads the practice, which includes Alice Stock and the ‘highly responsive’ Avram Morell, who has a ‘personal yet objective approach’.

The Washington DC-based team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP is able to ‘creatively problem-solve for different options’. The department focuses on compliance with homeland security rules, regulations, mandated procedures, temporary and permanent immigration to the US and employment-related compliance issues. The group acts for corporate clients and individuals in citizenship renunciation applications, asylum cases and foreign adoptions and assists with immigrant and non-immigrant applications for employees and family members, as well as visa applications and I-9 records. Practice head Lynda Zengerle ‘shows versatile but deep knowledge of the subject matter at hand and answers swiftly and clearly’. Elisabeth Laskey LaRocca has substantial experience of PERM labor certifications and employment-based adjustments, as well as non-immigrant petitions for executives of multinational corporations.

Troutman Sanders’ practice, which operates from offices in Atlanta and Chicago, advises clients on a broad range of business immigration issues. The group regularly handles non-immigrant visa status and permanent residency matters for corporations, facilitating the transfer of personnel from the US to other parts of the world, as well as handling large-scale transfers of international personnel and assisting companies in local recruitment and hiring. Atlanta-based Mark Newman, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the field, is well versed in handling appeals, re-filings, requests for evidence and outbound visas, while of counsel Aimee Clark Todd has particular experience of obtaining L-1 visas for hi-tech clients.

Vedder Price has a broad-ranging immigration practice, covering temporary and permanent immigration classifications in all business-related categories. The group, led by Chicago-based Gabrielle Buckley, drafts and files visa applications at US embassies and consulates and assists employers that are subject to governmental audits, investigations and prosecutions. The multinational client roster includes AXA Assistance, SSAB Group and the Bank of Ireland. Longstanding client Mercedes-Benz utilizes the firm for various immigration-related matters - such as pre-employment issues, I-9 compliance and non-immigrant visas.

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