I am an immigration attorney and the managing partner of my firm, Rambana & Ricci, PLLC. The focus of my practice is on National Interest Waivers-self sponsored Green Cards for highly educated foreigners, usually scientists, performers, and inventors. I handle H-1B, E, and L visas primarily as well as family sponsorships and citizenship.
My key responsibilities are providing legal strategies to my immigration clients and following through on those strategies if I am contracted. At my consultations, I try to solve the potential client’s issue on the spot if possible. If not, and if I think the potential client can do the work on their own, I will tell them how to do it. Sometimes a form needs to be filled out or call made to achieve their goal. I would rather spend my time working on more complex issues and saving money for those with simpler issues. People appreciate that approach.
My typical day
A normal day starts off around 7:30. The phones are answered starting at 8:00. I take initial consultations by phone or Zoom. The consultations are for up to a half hour during which I find out what the potential client’s issue is. I usually have to ask several questions to find out why they are calling. Sometimes, I have to delicately interrupt as sometimes details the caller thinks are important do not impact how, if at all, I might help them. For example, yesterday I had a caller from South America who went into a detailed explanation of why they were calling when they could have asked, “how can I bring my wife’s mother to the States”. Depending on how much time we have left, I may let them talk or cut right to the chase. If it appears useful that I represent the person, I give them a quote over the phone and follow up with an emailed contract. If they hire me within a business day, they receive a credit of the consultation fee. Once we contract and the person makes a down payment (I charge a flat fee paid over time or at a discounted rate if paid all at once), I send them forms to complete, a list of evidence to provide, and, depending on the type of case, sample affidavits or support letters to have completed and returned to me.)
When I am not conducting initial consultations, I might be answering current clients’ calls or emails. I prefer emails so we both have a record of the exchange.
If I am not communicating with a potential or current client, I am likely working on current clients’ cases. I perform research, write briefs, and review documents most of the rest of my time in the office.
In between all that, I am a volunteer case summarizer for the 11th Circuit.
If I am not doing any of that, I might be teaching a Legal Issues class at the local high school or at a board meeting. I am on several boards including the American Immigration Lawyers Association Central Florida Chapter (AILA CFC) Unlicensed Practice of Law Chair, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Liaison, and on the Holocaust Education Resource Council board, Barry University Alumni Board of Directors, am a mentor to a college student and a Girl Scout leader.
The pros of working for myself at the immigration practice I share with my husband include being able to see him during the day, eat lunch with my husband, take my dog to work, leave when I need to attend to my daughters’ school or extracurricular activities or my own board obligations and the ability to negotiate directly with clients on fees (and control how those fees are distributed).
The cons are that I have an incredible amount of responsibility including to my husband/law partner, clients, staff (to make sure enough business is brought in that they timely receive their salaries), and to my children (to make sure our own expenses are covered). The latter is because the practice of law can be unpredictable, especially when the subject is tied to an inefficient government agency that is slow to change and regulated more by political whims than law.
Elizabeth Ricci, Esq
Rambana & Ricci, PLLC