Law student aims for a career in immigration law

Law student Hannah Lynn completed the City Climb in New York City— the highest open-air building ascent in the world—this past summer. She scaled the outside of a skyscraper more than 1,200 feet above the ground, then leaned out over NYC.

Photo courtesy of City Climb

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Hannah Lynn vividly remembers seeing her parents John and Nayana—first-generation immigrants from India—study for the U.S. citizenship test required for naturalization. 

“Becoming U.S. citizens brought them so much happiness, along with a sense of relief and security—I hope to help other individuals have that experience as well,” she says.

So it’s no surprise that Lynn, a 3L student at Detroit Mercy Law, plans on becoming an immigration attorney.

“I knew I wanted my future legal career to be in a practice area that helps elevate minorities and assist individuals immigrate to the United States,” she says. “My goal is to work as an immigration attorney and give back to the immigrant community. Having parents who immigrated here, I’ve benefitted from the U.S. immigration system in this country. I hope to help others in their journey to immigrate and make a life here.”

Yet the legal world was not the first goal Lynn had in mind, initially entering undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan with an interest in pursuing a career in medicine. 

“I’ve always had a strong fascination with the human brain and psychology, so pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience seemed like the perfect fit,” she says. 

She also took many classes in Political Science and Asian Studies, and graduated with a degree Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience and minors in Political Science and Gender, Race, and Nation.

One of her classes was “Women, Politics, and Society in India,” taught by Professor Leela Fernandes, that studied sections of the Indian Penal Code in depth—including the Indian legal case, Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, involving the divorce of a Muslim couple that was married for 43 years. “This was my first experience reading and analyzing case law and it was absolutely thrilling,” Lynn says. “It was the turning point in my undergraduate studies where I first started to consider a future career in law.”

Prior to law school, Lynn was an immigration paralegal at the Law Offices of Luke Bowman in Brighton. She was the first point of contact for foreign nationals employed by the firm’s corporate clients; and the experience helped confirm she wanted to pursue a career in law. 

“I really enjoyed speaking to these individuals and hearing about their lives,” she says. “When a case was approved, I would receive phone calls or e-mails from the foreign nationals thanking me for helping them. These experiences made working in immigration law very fulfilling.”

Before this position, she worked as a litigation assistant at NachtLaw, P.C. in Ann Arbor, where her first big assignment involved sifting through terabytes of digital discovery. 

“I remember working on a health care fraud case and coming across hand-written patient appointment logs with their contact information—this allowed us to contact these patients for their testimonies.” she says. These experiences working for David Nacht and Luke Bowman only furthered her desire to attend law school.

Lynn currently serves as president of the law school’s Immigration Law Association (ILA) and president of the South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA), as well as a member of the Women’s Law Caucus (WLC). 

She chose to attend Detroit Mercy Law due to the diverse array of immigration courses offered and the school’s location near an international border. Currently enrolled in the Immigration Law Clinic with Professor Alexander Vernon, she notes the immigration coursework at the school has been instrumental in helping her carve out a future career in immigration law. Lynn has also done some work as a research assistant for Professor Andrew Moore, who specializes in immigration law and human rights law.

During the Winter 2023 semester, Lynn worked as a law clerk at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor in Detroit under the supervision of Assistant Chief Counsels Jeffrey Formanczyk and Namratha Ravikant. She researched humanitarian country conditions and assisted and observed government attorneys with immigration court proceedings.

This year, she was a summer associate at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, and Loewy LLP in New York, working on O-1B visa applications for ballet dancers, under the supervision of Associate Elena Kozlova-Hoak. 

“This was a new experience for me, and it was exciting to research various ballets and the technical requirements necessary to perform them,” she says.

Under the guidance of Senior Associate Kyle Sommer, she worked on legal research regarding the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification for a client seeking to provide M-1 visas to students. “My team was led by partners Julie Muniz and Jenny Schrager, where I was involved in working with energy, oil, and gas corporate clients,” she says.

She also clerks at the Law Offices of Afaf Vicky Farah, an immigration law firm in Ann Arbor, where she works on EB-1B petitions for outstanding professors and researchers at universities in Michigan. 

“These are very detail-oriented cases to work on and require a lot of additional research about the professor or researcher’s field of study,” she says. “I learned about statistics and computational analysis, areas of study that I didn’t expect to encounter when working in the legal field. 

“I’ve particularly enjoyed working as a law clerk because I get to delve into complex research issues and find solutions to real-world problems. The assignments I work on are no longer hypothetical exam scenarios but play an important role in the life of an actual person.” 

“Vicky Farah has been a big supporter in my journey to practice immigration law,” Lynn adds. “She regularly shares exciting immigration cases from her long-spanning legal career and always saves complex and interesting legal research assignments for me. She’s taught me to think outside of the box when it comes to finding a solution for a client’s immigration-related matter.”

In her leisure time, Lynn enjoys reading British literature, traveling, visiting museums, and trying new cuisines, as well as spending time with her parents—who always emphasized the importance of pursuing higher education; her younger brother Jonathan, a University of Michigan graduate working as a software developer; and the family dogs, Coltrane and Monk.

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, where she currently resides, Lynn also enjoys the time she spends in the Motor City. 

“I enjoy the vibrant culture and diversity of this city,” she says.

 “Detroit offers access to outstanding music, theater, museums, restaurants, and sporting venues. Additionally, the city is rich in history. Whether you’re just visiting Detroit or are a longtime resident, there’s always something more to explore.”

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