Lawyers Making a Difference: Michael Joseph
By: Michael Joseph, a retired partner at Blank Rome LLP
I began representing asylum seekers four years ago following retirement from 50 years as a securities lawyer and regulatory litigator in Washington. While I thoroughly enjoyed corporate practice, helping individuals seeking asylum is rewarding in wholly different ways.
These are people who have uprooted their lives, often leaving spouses and children behind and usually arriving here with no means of support—because remaining in their home countries has become intolerable, if not life-threatening. Being there when the Asylum Office clerk hands my client the asylum-granted letter, or the Immigration Judge grants it in open court, stirs emotions I never experienced at a closing dinner.
I took on my first case knowing nothing about immigration law, but quickly found that asylum law is a discrete, uncomplicated segment that requires no substantive background for effective representation. Of course, the support I’ve received from Human Rights First and my law firm, Blank Rome LLP, has probably made it seem easier than it would otherwise have been.
For me, this work has been a perfect way to continue the writing, strategizing, analysis and oral advocacy I loved doing throughout my professional career. I highly recommend it for retirees who want to continue practicing law, but on a less-demanding schedule.