THOUGHT LEADERS: CORPORATE IMMIGRATION 2017
Bernard Wolfsdorf is past president of AILA and managing partner of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP. For
six years (2010 to 2015), Who’s Who Legal named him Immigration Lawyer of the Year. The guide
now recognises him as one of the most influential lawyers in North America. He serves on AILA’s EB-5 committee and is a frequent speaker and author on EB-5 topics. Bernard also received the AILA Service Excellence Award for his volunteer services.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN CORPORATE IMMIGRATION? AND WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A SUCCESSFUL CORPORATE IMMIGRATION LAWYER?
My first immigration case was my own. I was granted political asylum based on my wellfounded fear of persecution in regard to my anti-apartheid activities – I consider this a badge of honour.
I started practising corporate immigration over 30 years ago while working as a corporate and securities lawyer. A senior partner asked for immigration assistance with his moviestar client, since I had worked on asylum cases for me and my friends. Suddenly, I was directly handling celebrity immigration cases for the firm’s entertainment department that represented a major studio.
A successful immigration lawyer is able to put himself into his clients’ shoes. I will always remember what it’s like to be an immigration client, and the anxiety and fear many clients endure.
AS MANAGING PARTNER, HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE FIRM MAINTAINS ITS MARKET-LEADING STATUS?
The key to maintaining market-leading status is providing the best client service in the market. Clients come to Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP with the fear that they may have to leave the United States and uproot their lives. We make sure that we guide them through the process with an even, measured hand. This has resulted in many referrals because we pride ourselves on world-class client service.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FIRM OVER THE COMING YEAR IN TERMS OF ITS STRATEGY? IS THE FIRM LOOKING TO GROW IN SIZE?
Over the coming year we plan to continue to continue to grow our share of the immigration market. We will continue to grow the firm in order to provide the best service to our clients.
LAWYERS HAVE RECENTLY NOTED A RISE IN COST-CONSCIOUSNESS ON THE PART OF CLIENTS, AS WELL AS SUBSEQUENT FEE PRESSURES. HOW HAS YOUR FIRM PREPARED TO MEET THIS CHALLENGE?
Without question, there is a change in the way immigration cases are handled in the United States. We have created efficiencies in our processes that lower costs to clients while maintaining world-class customer service. We also increasingly use technological solutions to increase productivity while lowering costs.
OVER THE PAST YEAR, US, IMMIGRATION POLICY HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY STRINGENT. HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED THE WAY IN WHICH CLIENTS, SEEKING TO DO BUSINESS IN THE COUNTRY, APPROACH THEIR IMMIGRATION NEEDS? HAS IT HAD AN IMPACT ON THE TYPE OF ADVICE THAT YOU GIVE TO CLIENTS? IF SO, HOW?
From increased fines and penalties for Form I-9 non-compliance to the current administration’s increased enforcement of existing laws it is now exceedingly important, possibly more than ever, for employers to ensure they are in compliance and to secure the guidance of licensed immigration attorneys.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO YOUR PRACTICE’S SUCCESS?
The secret to our success is understanding our clients’ needs and providing excellent customer service. A majority of the partners at Wolfsdorf are immigrants and understand what it is like to go through the process.