Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 26

FEATURE

ALLEN ORR

Surviving in a Gig Economy
Being a solo attorney enables Allen Orr to reduce overhead quickly.
He can forego expenses related to working in a shared or commercial
space. He doesn't have to worry about payroll for any employees or
cleaning staff.
Somewhat of a minor concern is the possible closure of vendors he uses
for printing and shipping. Orr prefers to use local businesses as much as
possible. "The government has made some progress regarding signatures for immigrants; we're now able to use digital signatures," he says.

Orr's bigger concern as an immigration lawyer who specializes in
business compliance and audits is if work will drastically shrink after the
pandemic is over. "All of the embassies are closed. The U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services
through early June. All Department of Labor investigations have been
frozen. All of that sort of put a hold on the incoming work that I have,"
he says.
"We can still send petitions through the mail, which is great if you're
already at that process. But for my practice, I deal with government
investigation of companies, and I also do visa applications. Right now,
companies are assessing if they want to follow through with immigration-related applications or not."
Orr says he's already had two clients that had to shut down business for
two weeks. "I work in the gig economy. I eat whatever comes through
my door. So, for clients that I've had for years that I never took a retainer
[from] because they are good payers, I'm now concerned about who
they are going to pay first. That can be very problematic for someone
who has an expensive overhead. Luckily, I don't."
Orr first recognized that the coronavirus pandemic may have a negative
impact on business when he was in Georgia in early March for a speaking

Orr Immigration Law Firm

He's also adept at teleworking in various spaces and conducting some
client meetings over Zoom or Skype. "But you don't really get a chance
to feel your client in certain points," he says. "There might be a language
or technology barrier when I'm interacting with a client who's an immigrant. If I'm using video technology, I might be able to pick up on some
of the nuanced information my clients would normally share if we were
meeting person to person. A lot of communication through technology
is sort of flat."

"Situations like
this pandemic
compress the
market for solo
practitioners."

engagement at Valdosta State University. From there, he was supposed
to go to Chicago for an American Immigration Lawyers Association
(AILA) regional conference. But out of safety concerns, the AILA canceled
the conference. "That was my first indication that things were not going
well," he recalls.
Those types of conferences and speaking engagements help Orr to
network and recruit more clients and create revenue streams. With those
on indefinite hold, Orr's safety net loosens.
"Situations like this pandemic compress the market for solo practitioners," he says. "Some might have to go back to working at larger firms
or figuring out how to fend for themselves within the gig economy in
terms of doing document reviews. Some will have to revise their practices altogether - go into something like bankruptcy law."
Orr recalls how many immigration lawyers had to revise their practice
after 9/11. The U.S. PATRIOT Act was passed in 2001, the Department
of Homeland Security was formed in 2002, and the Immigration and
Naturalization Service was dissolved in 2003. "Everything was rejuggled.
During that time, I had Baker McKenzie, a big immigration firm, behind
me. If I didn't, I might have gone into a different practice," he says. "This
pandemic [means] some law practices may not survive, just like the
booming housing market might not survive."

************************************************
AVA BENACH

Keeping the Human Element
The pandemic has certainly impacted Ava Benach's immigration practice
at Benach Collopy LLP, especially after President Trump ordered in late
April a halt in the issuance of new green cards to immigrants during the
pandemic.
"We represent people that the U.S. government is trying to remove,"
Benach says. "We represent people in immigration court. We also file
affirmative applications for asylum, permanent residence, and citizenship.
Very often our clients have problems, and we work with them to
overcome those mistakes."

26 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

JULY/AUGUST 2020

Benach says that Trump's April executive order on immigration, the suspension of in-person services at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services, and the temporary freeze of operations of other government
agencies related to immigration have turned her business operations
upside down.
She understands that in-person services at these government agencies
must be suspended because of health concerns. "But it also means that
people are going to have to wait longer for their permanent residence;
they are going to wait longer for their citizenship," she says.
The pandemic has forced Benach and many of her colleagues at the
firm to work from home; what's unchanged is the amount of paperwork



Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Election Coverage
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
When Law Firms Go Remote feature
Disaster Preparedness for Lawyers feature
Staying Afloat feature
Privacy Rights During a Pandemic Feature
Hamilton's Enduring Legacy feature
Annual Report
Taking the Stand
The Learning Curve
On Further Review
Member Spotlight -
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Women's Suffrage special section
Speaking of Ethics
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Election Coverage
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 10
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - When Law Firms Go Remote feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Disaster Preparedness for Lawyers feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Staying Afloat feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Privacy Rights During a Pandemic Feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Hamilton's Enduring Legacy feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Annual Report
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 38
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Member Spotlight -
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Women's Suffrage special section
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover4
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