Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 31

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

DANIEL
WILLIAMSON
Interview by Sarah Kellogg

F

or many Americans, immigration is an abstraction
or a political talking point on the 2020 presidential
campaign trail. For Daniel Williamson, a partner
with immigration firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen
& Loewy, LLP, it's personal, and not just because it's his
area of practice.
Williamson grew up internationally, living with his economist parents in farflung destinations. He is fluent in Portuguese thanks to his Brazilian mother
and his determination to immerse himself in the language while living in Brazil
as a child. With family and friends scattered across the globe, he understands
why people cross borders.
Today, Williamson, who frequently lectures about immigration, is a leading
practitioner of immigration law in the United States, advising individual clients,
small and medium for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and Fortune 500
companies in industries such as education, video game, media, financial
services, and hospitality. He has extensive experience with all major employment-based temporary and permanent visa categories, as well as with familybased permanent residence applications and applications for U.S. citizenship.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up all over, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom,
and Brazil. My parents were international economists, so we moved around
a lot and I had a lot of international exposure. We finally settled in Washington,
D.C., but we still had a lot of friends and family who lived internationally, so
I had a broad exposure to international issues and people. I graduated from
high school in suburban Maryland, and then went to Princeton University for
undergrad and Fordham University for law school.
Why did you choose the law and, in particular, immigration law?
Before I attended law school, I was a paralegal at a large law firm. I was exposed
to a lot of different types of law. I became very interested in being a lawyer.
There weren't any lawyers in my family, but I was drawn to the law and working
with people. Most people don't realize that lawyers are so specialized.
After my second year of law school, I started working as an intern in a firm in
New York, and I learned a lot about the modern practice of law. I decided relatively early to focus on immigration. As an intern, I filled out my very first immigration-related application. It was so interesting to me to see the details that
matter about each case. I thought at the time that this is exactly what I want to
do. I was interested in every part of every case - country of origin, where they
attended school, what degree they had, what their employers needed.

Photo courtesy of Fragomen

Would you recommend an internship like yours to law students
interested in becoming an immigration lawyer?
I'd recommend that they take as many immigration classes as possible and
participate in different immigration clinics to get as much exposure as possible
to the law. Get a clerkship or internship with a law firm or at the U.S. Department
of Justice, for example. That's a great way to get into immigration law. If we were
hiring for a law clerk or associate at Fragomen, we would expect them to have
some background and interest in immigration law.
What is the practice of immigration law like?
Immigration is complex. It's really driven by the cornerstones of employment
and family reunification. When you look at refugee programs and temporary
protected status, there are a lot of overlapping policies that drive them. Just
about everybody I know, regardless of his or her field, has an immigration
referral or question at some point. Immigration is something that comes
up for just about everybody.
There are specific requirements for every category of immigration, and it's
our job to see if the person's activities and background fit these categories.
Normally, we need to review the person's job description and resumé, prior
immigration history, and the potential for citizenship or other alternatives.
If there is a good fit, then we're able to fill out the application.
In the firm itself, and in my practice as well, most of our cases are going to be
employment driven. We have a substantial niche in individual cases that often
will involve an individual person's interest in coming to work in the United
States. By now, I've probably handled immigration cases from people from
90 percent of the world's companies.
You have an interesting practice, especially working with high-profile
athletes, artists, and scientists. How did you carve out this niche for
yourself?
Some of our clients are top notch in their fields. They have distinguished themselves in a variety of areas. But I've worked with a range of different clients, and
I think that makes me better at serving all our clients, whether they are corporate clients or pro bono cases. I believe it's important for law firms and attorneys
to commit to pro bono work, especially in this area of the law where there is a
great need.
Sometimes with individual cases, there's a lot of client contact, even in employment-based cases. Whether you're doing an initial assessment or reviewing an
application, you have to have a 360-degree view of an individual and his or her
life. You have to not be reactive to issues. You have to be thorough. There is no
way to give advice without knowing who you're dealing with and why. It brings
you in close to your clients.

*

SEPTEMBER 2019

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

31


https://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - September 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - September 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Tomorrow’s Lawyers: Jd + Practice Ready
The Justice Gap & The Rise Of Nonlawyer Legal Providers
D.C. Bar Cle: Keeping Up With The Law
Aba Delegate’s Corner
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
2019 Celebration Of Leadership & Presidents Reception
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Tomorrow’s Lawyers: Jd + Practice Ready
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - The Justice Gap & The Rise Of Nonlawyer Legal Providers
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - D.C. Bar Cle: Keeping Up With The Law
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Aba Delegate’s Corner
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 2019 Celebration Of Leadership & Presidents Reception
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover4
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/septemberoctober2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com