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Meet Paola I. Neri, Esq. of Neri Law Offices in Glendale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paola I. Neri, Esq.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Paola. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I graduated from Loyola Law School in 2012 and moved back home to San Diego while I waited for the July bar results. I began clerking for a solo practitioner and once I received my license that December, I primarily handled his immigration law practice. In June of the following year, I decided to open my own office and three months into that journey, I was informed by a good friend and colleague of a great opportunity to gain experience at an immigration law firm, Law Office of Enrique Arevalo, in South Pasadena. Because I was a new attorney, I figured that experience at a larger firm was invaluable to my future endeavors as I wanted to eventually get back into private practice. I took a chance and interviewed for the job. I remember driving up to Los Angeles on a Friday morning and I was greeted by the boss and a panel of his associate attorneys for my interview. I was completely myself and said, “whatever happens, happens.” The following Monday, the boss called me with a job offer and in two weeks’ time, I was in my new office and figuring out my life back in Los Angeles. I stayed with the law firm for almost four years.

In 2017, a friend and colleague reached out to me to join her law office, Alami Law, in Pasadena. I accepted the job offer to broaden my experience and was a Senior Associate Attorney at the firm until this year in January 2020, when I decided it was time for me to get back on track to what I really wanted, which was to be my own boss and have my own office again. Even with the pandemic, which has affected all of us in different ways, it was the best decision for me, and I have no regrets.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I would not necessarily say it has been an easy path since obtaining my law license, but I will say that I have come a long way in terms of my professional and personal growth. When I took over the solo practitioner’s immigration law practice in San Diego, I was new to the area of law. I taught myself by being proactive. I researched, I asked questions, and I became a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association to connect with experienced colleagues. Once I joined the law firm in South Pasadena, I became a leader and capitalized on my strengths; writing, organizing, managing, and teaching.

Everyone goes through different life experiences growing up that shape them into who they are later in life. I lost my father at a young age. I grew up in my home primarily with my mother and my two younger sisters. My mother was a special needs teacher in Mexico. When we immigrated to the United States, my mother had to create a new life for herself and her two (2) young daughters, plus one on the way. The strengths mentioned above definitely come from my mother and I am grateful for everything she has done for me to be where I am today.

I am a “workaholic” and a perfectionist. I wholly dedicate myself to my work product, my clients, and their cases. There have been moments in my career where I was working too hard and my stress level was high. My mind had become accustomed to the stress, but my body was telling me to take a break. As a solo practitioner, I can better manage my time to ensure that I find a balance between the time I spend on my work and time I spend for self-care.

Neri Law Offices – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize in family-based immigration cases. I process all types of immigration petitions (permanent residency, citizenship, victims of crime, military families, appeals, etc.) and I also appear for interviews at USCIS and immigration court hearings in California and in other states. I am known for exceptional case management and note taking. There have been multiple occasions where an employee of a firm I used to work for commends me for my notes because he or she knows exactly what has happened in the case and in what stage the case is in. Those are happy moments for me because not only am I serving my clients’ best interests by keeping their cases up to date, but I am helping attorneys and staff hit the ground running. I am also known for teaching employees and clients the law and how it works. There are multiple parts in what makes an immigration case and I think it is super important to understand how these parts work in harmony together. At both law firms I worked for, I instituted Continuing Legal Education (CLE) “classes” where the attorneys and staff would get together and discuss immigration law and procedure. I thoroughly enjoy enhancing someone else’s education and even my own. When I do not know the answer to a question, I am always honest about it. The person that asked gets a follow-up response from me.

I have joined various organizations in both a volunteer and leadership capacity. I am a volunteer for the Legal Clinic at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Hollywood, where I provide free immigration consultations. I am also a volunteer for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Military Assistance Program (MAP) where I take pro bono cases to assist service members in need. I am the Treasurer for the AILA Southern California Chapter. I am also a Co-Chair of the Immigration Section Steering Committee for the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Los Angeles Chapter.

I just started my practice this year and I am proud of myself for taking the leap once again. I have never been afraid of failure because my mindset will not allow failure to be a part of my life path. I know my worth and what I bring to the table. I put in the work. I aspire to be an attorney recommended by word of mouth, and it is working so far.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career thus far is when I won an asylum case in immigration court with no preparation. Long story short, I went to immigration court in Adelanto, which is a detention facility, under the impression that I was going to continue a new client’s hearing, only to find out that the judge was not on board for a continuance and instead was expecting a full-blown trial. I had met with the client for the first time before the hearing for less than 30 minutes. I will never forget the judge’s words: “Please begin.” This was not my first asylum-based rodeo, so I put on my case with no supporting evidence, no witnesses, and just the knowledge I had. The facts of the case were complicated and very sad; they involved domestic violence, minor children who were now in foster care, and being taken against your will out of the United States while being undocumented. Nevertheless, I won the case and my client was released from detention that evening. Along with the words that the immigration judge uttered at the beginning of the case, I will never forget what the immigration judge said after she ruled in our favor: “Counsel, you work great under pressure.” The government did not reserve appeal.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 330 N Brand Blvd.
    Suite 702
    Glendale, CA 91203
  • Website: www.nerilawoffices.com
  • Phone: (619) 361-1118
  • Email: paolanerilaw@gmail.com

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