Wayne State student eyes career in immigration law


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

With parents who are first-generation immigrants from India, Wayne Law rising 3L student Anu Nandi has always been particularly interested in immigration law.

“I wanted to become an immigration lawyer after seeing my parents and their friends from India go through the sometimes challenging process of applying for their visas, then green cards, and eventually, citizenship,” she says. “My desire to study law was to eventually help individuals like them and ease their fears about the immigration process.

“I want to continue pursuing a career in the field. I specifically enjoy the employment aspect of immigration law and pursuing visas to enter the U.S. for such reasons and hope to learn more about this area. I also have a special interest in the PERM process to obtaining labor certification for foreign nationals and the steps taken to obtaining a green card.”

Now working as a legal services clerk at the immigration law firm of Ellis Porter in Troy, Nandi enjoys learning about the field more in depth through the attorneys and legal team.

“My time at Ellis Porter has allowed me to expand my knowledge base and continue to grow in the field,” she says. “A lot of the work I do includes creating the physical filings that will be sent to USCIS and that has been super helpful to get a glimpse of what is required for each petitioner in their own specific visa category.

“Being a clerk at Ellis Porter has also been a great experience because of their understanding of my school/work/life balance—my supervising attorney RJ Miller and managing partners Shaju Jacob and Marc Topoleski are supportive of this and emphasize such a balance in the workplace. The employees have also made the experience so great—the attorneys, case managers and support staff are all interested in helping me adjust to the role and learning more as a law student, while also taking the time to get to know me as an individual.”

Nandi started her career trajectory with an undergrad degree from the University of Michigan in political science/government.

“Political science gave me a core understanding of different identity aspects and how this this can impact your views on our country's government and world politics as well,” she says. “If I’d decided not to attend law school, I think I would have tried to pursue a career in Washington, D.C., working in the public sector.”

In two undergraduate internships Nandi was able to see the difference attorneys can make in people’s lives and assisted two female attorneys as they did so. One 4-month internship was with Giampolo Law Group in Philadelphia; and she spent 2-1/2 years with the Law Offices of Ambereen R. Ahmed in Port Huron. The experiences solidified her desire to go to law school.

“I wanted to be able to help individuals with their legal needs in the same way Ms. Ahmed and Ms. Giampolo did,” she says. “Ambereen Ahmed has continued to be one of my biggest supporters throughout law school—she is constantly encouraging me throughout the three years and beyond. I look up to her as my oldest mentor and hope she knows how big of an influence she had on me as a Brown woman in the legal field—her confidence and strength inspired me and was integral to my decision to attend law school.”

Nandi enjoys the law school community and the friends and mentors she has made.

“Wayne Law has introduced me to some of the kindest and most intelligent people I’ve encountered—some of whom I know will be my lifelong friends,” she says. “It’s also given me access to the Metro-Detroit legal community, and the alumni who are willing to provide their mentorship to current students.”

She was thankful for last summer’s opportunity to work in-person at the St. Clair County Prosecutor’s Office in her hometown of Port Huron.

“It felt as if I was one of the few students who got to do their summer internship in-person,” she says. “I was able to spend a summer assisting in researching issues related to grand larceny and domestic violence. I was also able to participate in a few mental commitment hearings on the record and ensure that respondents were getting adequate treatment and resources.

“I enjoyed learning more about prosecutorial work and I learned that I enjoy being in a space where people are all working towards the same goals and creating a safe, comfortable, and sociable environment while doing so—even in the height of the pandemic.”

Last year, she spent four months at the school’s Disability Law Clinic, where she enjoyed creating change for Metro-Detroit residents with disabilities in their daily lives and communities. A lot of the work, overseen by Professor David Moss, included creating interrogatories and writing responses for these individuals' requests for accommodations. 

Nandi also has done some work as a research assistant for Associate Dean Rachel Settlage.

“I really admire Dean Settlage and the research she does involving immigration issues and their inter-sectionality with border crossing and asylum issues,” Nandi says. “While she has been busy adjusting to her new position as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, I look forward to assisting her in her research even more during the summer and upcoming school year.”

In her upcoming 3L year, Nandi will serve as an executive articles editor for The Journal of Law in Society. She enjoys the message of The Journal and its dedication to ensuring there is important dialogue about the intersection of law and social issues—especially those directly affecting the city of Detroit.

“I look forward to mentoring the incoming article editors and ensuring the journal continues to be a successful publication,” she says.

A member of Moot Court, and co-director of In-house competitions on the e-board, Nandi says Moot Court has given her the opportunity to improve her legal writing and research skills while also working on oral advocacy skills.

“I’m looking forward to helping plan the In-House competitions with one of my close friends in law school, Katelyn Maddock and giving junior members the opportunity to present their oral arguments to the visiting judges and attorneys volunteering their time as the Appellate Board,” she says.

An important part of her time in law school is serving as vice president of the Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) —“Because of my commitment to ensuring my Asian identity is recognized and valued in the legal field,” she says. “As one of the few Asian students at Wayne Law, I look forward to the opportunities to have our voices heard and to be working closely with the APALSA President, Aleanna Siacon, a great friend and classmate, to improve the diversity and recognition of it at Wayne Law.”

In her 2L year, Nandi served as director of diversity and inclusion on the Women’s Law Caucus e-board.

“After last summer and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the various Asian hate crimes, and other forms of systemic racism that was being highlighted, I applaud the WLC e-board for creating a role that wanted to embrace the diversity that should be present in the legal community, Metro-Detroit and beyond,” she says.

“I enjoyed being a part of this all-female executive board and ensuring incoming 1Ls and others of the Wayne Law community felt as if they had a safe space to share their feelings and frustrations about being women, minorities and/or other minority identities, especially in a field that is dominated by white cisgender men.

“As someone who has experienced covert racism, even during my time in law school, I never wanted other students to feel as if they could not speak about their stories. I’m proud of the WLC e-board for being such a welcoming community to do so.”

With networking an important part of her law school experience, Nandi is serving as Detroit Bar Association student liaison.

“I consider it an integral part of the past two years, and what I expect will continue,” she says. “I’m grateful the DBA has given me the opportunity to do so. I’ve met great attorneys who want to continue providing opportunities for law students like myself to be successful in the community.”

A supportive friend group in law school was a big help when the coronavirus hit last year.

“I was lucky I was able to be a part of a ‘pod’ with my friends who were taking the same classes as I was, and that I also enjoyed socializing with outside of law school and learning. It created a great balance of work and play because we could study and have fun together as well.

“I consider Elle Madsen, Danielle Romano and Katelyn Maddock, all Wayne Law students, to be my second family at this point because of the bond we created going through law school together in a pandemic—they understand the struggles because they are experiencing this with me. I was originally quarantining at my parents’ home because my summer internship with the Prosecutor’s Office was in-person but moved back to Midtown at the beginning of my 2L year to be close to my pod and have my own workspace.”

Nandi lives in Midtown Detroit, sharing an apartment with her best friend from Port Huron, and commuting to Troy and back for her job.

Nandi’s father Amit and mother Hema, first-generation immigrants from India, opened pediatric offices in St. Clair County after completing their residencies at Henry Ford.

“Both are superstars,” their daughter says. “I also have a twin sister, Tina, who graduated with me from the University of Michigan—she’s currently a UX designer in Chicago.”

In her leisure time, Nandi enjoys trying new cuisines and restaurants and spending time with her friends—and their dogs.

“I also have a habit of having too many movie marathons, attempting to learn how to cook, and playing tennis—I started at the age of 5 and played seriously till age 18 in high school—now it’s in good, competitive fun.

“I love to travel—and have visited over 25 countries—and can’t wait to do so again when law school, the bar exam and pandemic is over.”

She appreciates the Detroit communities and the rich history present in the city and surrounding suburbs.

“After growing up in a small town like Port Huron, I’m enjoying having a new area to explore,” she says.

She also plans to give back to her community. Part of a multi-cultural sorority in undergrad whose philanthropy was dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention, she served as president during her junior and senior years.

“I want to continue volunteering in a role where I can be an advocate for those who’ve been subjected to such intimate partner violence—either through pro bono work as an attorney or as a resident of the community,” she says.

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