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Guardians at the Gate: The Backgrounds, Career Paths, and Professional Development of Private US Immigration Lawyers

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This article presents findings from a qualitative study of seventy-one New York immigration lawyers who are engaged in private practice. It focuses on the lawyers' backgrounds, career paths, and early professional training and describes, inter alia, the unusual diversity of this bar, the lawyers' reasons for practicing immigration law, the ways in which they learn to practice law, and the strong sense of community within the private immigration bar. It uses the idea of communities of practice to help understand how lawyers learn from their colleagues and are influenced by them. The article identifies several factors that may contribute to the supportiveness of the bar and the strong sense of community within that practice specialty, notwithstanding its great diversity. It concludes by making some preliminary comparisons between immigration lawyers and lawyers in other practice specialties and by identifying some questions for future study.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2009


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