The Last Word: Shabnam Lotfi ’11

shabnam lotfiShabnam Lotfi, the founder of Lotfi Legal, specializes in immigration law.

Describe your current job.

As an immigration attorney, my current job is to help people get one step closer to reaching the American Dream. People from all over the world contact our firm for assistance with navigating the very complex, convoluted US immigration system. They share their stories, dreams, timelines, aspirations, and concerns. My job is to understand all of that, analyze that information against the US immigration laws, and offer viable paths to achieving their goals.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Winning. I thrive off of hearing complex stories and having to use every ounce of creativity in my body to come up with a solution. Some cases are easy, but many others are 3D puzzles with multiple tiers of complex obstacles in the way. I enjoy the  mental challenge. And getting to be a part of the joy my clients feel when I’m able to secure a win for them is an experience like no other.

What advice would you give to a new lawyer?

Take time to become self-aware. Figure out who you are and what you like. Life is short and it’s not worth being in the wrong job. When you find the right job for you, you’ll know, because you’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

As someone working in immigration law, there has been significant change over the last few years. What has that meant for you and your clients?

Depression, anxiety, and perseverance. The last four years have been a nightmare, and possibly the toughest years ever for people wanting to immigrate to the United States. Numerous travel bans were put in place. Cases were delayed indefinitely. Families were separated, stranded. Dreams and career opportunities were shattered. It was a close-up look at the cruelty of a system that is too often insensitive to the actual needs of people. It was bureaucracy on steroids.

With a new administration, what changes are you seeing or anticipating in your field?

We’re hoping that a sense of normalcy and stability will be restored. Also, the immigration bill proposed by the new administration has a lot of provisions that would help millions of immigrants and their families; we just have to hope that as much of it as possible is able to make it through a polarized Congress.