My view on researching immigration law

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In law school, I received the American Jurisprudence Award for Advanced Legal Research. The award normally goes to a 3L (third year law student) but I received the award as a 2L. There are schools of thought about lawyers. A lawyer with great research abilities who can write might be referred to as a “legal lawyer.” After graduating law school, a Mariel Cuban detainee who was held in federal prison in Oklahoma approached me to represent him in a habeas corpus case in which he claimed that his indefinite detention in federal prison had lasted so long that it was no longer immigration detention but punishment.

I remember trying to put the case together. I contacted experienced immigration lawyers in my locality at the time and received no help. A public interest lawyer from Atlanta, Georgia, gave me his briefing bank on the issue. He warned me about the impossibility of the task. I got a couple of law professors at the University of Oklahoma to review my briefing at different times in the process. I kept concise time records in the case. I worked over 300 hours to eventually help the detainee win his freedom after appealing his detention to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. In those 300 hours of seeming never ending research I learned an important lesson: There is no unified theory of immigration law.

I keep a lot of research materials on hand at the office. My immigration library is better than at least one of the law school libraries in Oklahoma. The core of my personal library is the Matthew Bender “Immigration Law & Procedure” 20-volume treatise.

If you are a non-lawyer, how is this important? First, if you are seeking out an immigration attorney, then one of the things you should consider is whether the lawyer or his law firm owns a copy of the treatise. If he does not, then maybe the lawyer does not seriously appreciate the complexities and risks inherent in any move made in your immigration case. Second, Matthew Bender also publishes “Bender’s Immigration Bulletin.” An online version is available. Typical news coverage of immigration runs toward unlawful immigration, immigration reform and immigration enforcement. The online version of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin takes a look at the lastest news on all aspects of immigration. Texas immmigration attorney Daniel M. Kowalski, Esq., edits it. It’s worth checking out — even for non-lawyers interested in immigration.