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On June 20, 2019, Ron Klasko became the first person in American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) history to receive the Founders Award, AILA’s highest honor, for the second time. This award has only been presented three times in the last decade. When it is presented, it goes to the person or organization “who has had the most substantial impact on the field of immigration law or policy.” Previous recipients of the award include President Harry S. Truman, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Congressman Peter W. Rodino.
Ron was chosen for this award for leading AILA’s newly-formed Administrative Litigation Task Force, which by its efforts has very substantially increased successful litigation by AILA members across the country. Also in the last year, Ron served as co-counsel for the successful federal court litigation that produced a nationwide preliminary injunction forcing USCIS to withdraw a memorandum that not only negatively affected foreign students and scholars in the United States, but also the universities at which they study. To read more on the incredible work that contributed to AILA’s decision to honor Ron with this award for a second time, please read the firm’s press release and AILA’s press release on the subject.
This blog will look back at the accumulation of Ron’s achievements, and also some less well-known aspects of his career that contribute to Ron’s continued esteemed reputation as a leader.
For more than three decades, Ron has blazed many trails in immigration law, litigating precedent-setting immigration cases and developing a number of pioneering legal strategies that have earned him a reputation for finding innovative solutions to seemingly impossible cases. Some notable legal victories, not including the two already mentioned above, are:
- Enabled an American auto manufacturer to remain competitive in the global market by compliantly hiring 900 international design engineers in what is now the only case cited by the Foreign Affairs Manual of the U.S. Department of State.
- Coordinated an orchestrated effort between a Chinese steel company, six U.S. government agencies, and the owners of a dormant steel mill in California that resulted in the construction of a new mill outside Beijing by repurposing the U.S. mill’s materials, freeing up that land for the construction of a jobs-creating shopping mall.
- Became one of the early leaders in the EB-5 visa industry and expanded the firm’s EB-5 practice to 25 full-time employees dedicated to addressing the needs of this complex market.
- Developed third-country citizenship by investment as a solution to a number of otherwise unsolvable U.S. immigration problems, including as a travel solution for individuals stuck in EB-5 quota waits and immigrants affected by the Travel Ban.
- Created a litigation strategy on behalf of EB-5 investors, projects, and regional centers, with numerous cases currently underway.
The three themes that run through these accomplishments are effective collaboration, intense problem-solving, and of course, innovation.
Ron has an innate ability to assemble collaborative teams – inside and outside the firm – and then empower those teams to leverage their skills to work together to find a solution. He is also quick to dole out recognition to his teams. In his acceptance speech for the Founders Award, most of his words were spent lauding the praises of others, first recognizing the firm’s lawyers for their exceptional work and committed drive by saying, “There’s no way that I could spend the time that I do on things like the Litigation Task Force, if I didn’t have some of the top lawyers in the country. These lawyers that are standing up are incredibly bright, creative, committed, and really terrific lawyers.” He also specifically named another immigration attorney as being essential to his recent success with the Litigation Task Force. “Her name is Tammy Fox-Isicoff. Tammy has been my right-hand person in all of these efforts.”
Not only has he influenced effective collaboration and problem-solving for work efficiencies and client service at the firm, but he’s also been a big advocate and supporter of an inclusive and progressive workplace culture that has expanded to employ nearly 100 staff members. For the last four years, Klasko Immigration Law Partners has been listed as one of the Best Places to Work by the Philadelphia Business Journal – the only mid-sized law firm to receive this honor.
Then, of course, there is his knack for innovative strategies and solutions to some of the most daunting immigration situations.
As an innovator, Ron is always looking toward and anticipating the future, and much to the benefit of his clients and colleagues, he is unwavering in his drive to share the skills and lessons he’s learned with them. Not only did he accept the Founders Award on behalf of AILA’s Litigation Tack Force, he also said he is, “accepting this as kind of a pat on the back. That, ‘Okay, guys, you are off to a good start.’ Immigration litigation by our members around the country has increased by at least fivefold. Most of that successful litigation. And that’s a good start! We’re real happy with it. But I am assuming, this is mostly motivation for our task force to do way better things in the coming year.”
The material contained in this article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
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