3pm, June 25, 2009 – I’m sitting in a legal practice seminar when across the table, an attorney whispers, “Michael Jackson just died.” Thanks to Twitter, instant messaging, texting, iPhones, PDAs, we got the news as it broke. We had also lost Farrah Fawcett earlier the same day, and Ed McMahon less than 48 hours before. It is a somber reminder – we are all mortal. Michael Jackson has been compared to this generation’s Elvis. Now the culturally significant question might now be: “where were you when the King of Pop died?”
I was attending a seminar on how to run a more efficient law office by automating the legal process to reduce attorney time spent on each case. While this might be okay for other law offices, it wouldn’t serve the mission of an immigration law office like Fong & Aquino where we work with clients who have such different and highly individualized immigration problems. Sure, maybe this method could work for some clients who have simpler, more straightforward cases but not for those who have very complex problems. I do agree that technology should help attorneys work more efficiently, but technology can’t replace the one-on-one time that an attorney needs to spend with a client, time spent listening. I couldn’t delegate that task to a computer – no way. My job is to help people achieve their immigration plans, their dreams. And doing so means you have to work closely with clients. The seminar became really irrelevant to me right then and there.
But what is relevant to me on the day Michael Jackson died, is that today, President Obama conducted the first of what will be many, many meetings beginning the long-awaited immigration reform debate. The New York Times ran a good article yesterday on how the political stage is set for this discussion. But it’s also important to ask ourselves, what we think immigration reform should to look like. Could we ourselves, have misperceptions about immigration or immigrants that we need to examine or change? Immigration reform is going to take place on the political stage, but conversations in all our communities need to take place, too. And it starts with ourselves, whether we are using myths to make judgments on immigrants or actual facts. –ecf