Voice

September-October 2013

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PASS THE MIC Editorials, Comments, and Opinions Don't Take It Home with You: Less Stress Equals More Sleep by Danielle M. Rizzo Danielle M. Rizzo is an attorney with the Law Offices of James D. Eiss. She is the immediate past chair of AILA's Upstate New York Chapter and currently is serving as chair of AILA's Board of Publications and as a member of AILA Customs and Border Protection Liaison Committee. "How to Sleep at Night if You're an Attorney" is modified from a version initially published on her blog. I 've been an attorney now for six years. The first couple of years were tough, but I have gradually learned that the key to minimizing the stress of my job lies in recognizing and operating within the parameters of my role, which, as I view it, is twofold: I am a counselor and an advocate. clients in person at the border. My ability to understand how adjudicators evaluate applications has deeply influenced the way I represent clients in person, as well as on paper. That is, I refuse to submit a case that offends logic or would fail the sniff test of a seasoned government official. As a counselor, my only job is to advise my clients. That is nothing more than researching all the options available to the clients and explaining the consequences that could flow from each one. Sometimes, options are limited and the results straightforward, but other times, the possibilities branch out in all directions. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the clients ultimately decide which way to go. Some clients ask me what I would do if I were in their shoes, and with some disclaimers, I explain what I'd do and why. These hypothetical situations sometimes help the clients choose an option. Whatever consequences flow from the clients' choices are theirs to bear. As long as I have provided the clients with accurate information, I have done my job. Recognizing that fact takes an enormous burden off of my shoulders. "Whatever consequences flow from the clients' choices are theirs to bear. As long as I have provided the clients with accurate information, I have done my job." As an advocate, I represent my clients before the government in whatever course of action they have chosen. Since I don't litigate, I present most of my cases in writing with no in-person appearance. However, I do represent Often, the cases I present are clearly approvable. Other times, however, the adjudicator exercises a great deal of discretion. And some clients do choose to pursue cases that I have advised them are likely to be rejected. I often turn down the cases because the trouble of dealing with high-maintenance clients who might not want to pay the bills is not worthwhile. But, sometimes, if I believe that the cases should be approved under the law and yet probably won't be because of current adjudication trends, I accept those cases, assuming that the clients know the risks involved and choose to pursue the course of action anyway. I like to push the boundaries of current government opinion when it is wrong. S EPTEMBER/ O CTOBER 2013 35

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