Attorney Trupti Patel was born in Gujarat, India and resided in Uganda, East Africa until the age of seven before immigrating with her family to United Kingdom. She is a graduate of University of London, UK (LB with honors) and Guildford College of Law and was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court in 1994 and practiced law at a prestigious Solicitor’s Offices in London, England. After moving to the United States, Attorney Patel was admitted to practice law in New York in 1998. Ms. Patel started work as an Attorney for a Software Development Company in the Boston area, handling all of their immigration matters before joining Law Offices of Ralph A. Donabed in Boston in 2003. Attorney Patel eventually took over the law practice and is now the principal Attorney at the Law Firm of Trupti N Patel & Associates with offices in Boston and Burlington, Massachusetts. She represents both corporate and individual clients across the United States. Attorney Patel is a member of the American Lawyers Association, New York Bar Association, Mass Bar and American Bar Association.
She shares insights on her life and work with Lokvani.
Can you tell us a little about your work?
I am an immigration attorney primarily focused on business immigration, but my practice handles family immigration as well, including asylum and removal/deportation. Our work involves helping companies transfer and hire foreign nationals, and ultimately helping them process their permanent residency application. We also help individuals obtain permanent residency through their family relations as well as fight for individuals who are in deportation proceedings. Immigration over the years has become a complicated and unpredictable field of law; this is primarily because USCIS has become much stricter in their enforcement of the rules governing the immigration process. Unfortunately, these rules are often not very clear and are open to multiple interpretations, resulting in a system that can be difficult and frustrating to navigate. Applicants for permanent residence regularly see their cases delayed for months or even years, and are unable to settle down, paralyzed by the fear of losing temporary status before their permanent residency is ever approved. As attorneys we provide professional expertise in navigating through the myriad of laws that are frequently changing as well as providing piece of mind to our clients. You only need to listen to the news every day and hear the squabbling on this subject from our elected leaders (who need to provide better leadership on this subject) to understand that immigration is a much more nuanced field then one might think.
Why did you choose Immigration Law as a path?
It was not intended but I always had interest working on international level such as the UN; my first job in the United States was in relation to immigration, focusing on obtaining temporary work visas. Once I got my license, I joined a law firm in Boston and I quickly realized there was more to the immigration practice than I imagined. What fascinates me most is that Immigration is an area of law that touches all aspects of society to a larger extent than people realize. For example, immigration and the economy are intricately linked; the proposed deportation of 11 million undocumented individuals as a solution to the broken immigration system would certainly have unintended effects, such as bringing some industries to a standstill.
What excites you most about your work?
Knowing that I am able to make a tangible difference in the lives of my clients and to be able to see their excitement at the end of what can be a long, prolonged and frustrating process. It is incredibly gratifying to know that we have helped an individual achieve their right to permanently work and reside in the United States. Additionally, helping companies to attain and retain staff so that they can be successful in their endeavors, as well as helping families unite and remain in the United States is what we strive for and is very satisfying.
What factors have helped you achieve success?
I measure my success by how well I have served my clients; to that end, I have found that having a passion for what I do and a steadfast dedication to my clients are among the most important factors in achieving success. The immigration practice requires navigating what is often a complex and trying system; having the patience and determination to see the process through to a favorable conclusion for your clients is key to having a successful career in the immigration field.
What lasting impact do you expect your work to have on the world?
I realize that my contribution does not have an impact on a national/international scale but hope it does so on an individual level. I hope that through my work I have made a difference in someone’s life by helping them leave a difficult circumstance and to have a fresh start here in the United States; once here, you never know what greatness they may be able to achieve.
What advice do you have for women who may want a career in immigration law?
As is the case in other professions, immigration law is open to abuse, given that that the results of your work can have a defining impact on both your client’s lives and the respect of your community; with this in mind, it is critical to maintain a high level of integrity and commitment. It’s also a field, which can be highly frustrating at times, with unnecessary delays in processing and politics. However, it is truly self-rewarding to see the joy of these individuals who want build their home in the United States and knowing you’ve helped them obtain the right to do so. Anyone interested in this area of law needs to not only have the patience to fight the bureaucracy and politics but also must have a passion for helping individuals make their dream of life in the U.S. possible.
You and your husband are very busy? What is the secret to your maintaining a work -life balance ?
There is no secret. Just like any other family, it certainly is a challenge. Supporting each other is extremely important without undermining each other’s role and obligations. When you have a strong and supporting relationship, you can provide a strong foundation for your children to live in. Admit tingly, it is not always balanced and it can be stressful to juggle between work and home but when you have two strong pillars, you can lean on each other, and help each other pull through difficult times. Team work is important to us and explaining to our children that we each have a role to play helps us understand each other.
You are a big supporter of community activities. What motivates you to do that?
Honestly I do not feel I do as much as I would like to. Giving money in support of a good cause is certainly worthwhile, but for me, it is not as gratifying as being actively involved in the cause. I like to be more involved so that I feel I am truly doing something. As a minor example, every Christmas, Salvation Army hands out Angels of gifts for families who are unable to buy gifts for their children at the North Station in Boston. On each Angel, there is a name of a child, age and their wish. Every year I would take three or four angels and buy the requested gifts and give then to the Salvation Army to deliver it to the child. Doing these type of deeds gives me the self-satisfaction that I actually did something rather than donating money to the Salvation Army. If we all helped each other live a better life then that is the greatest asset you can leave behind. I know a lot of women who are not recognized and they do not intend to be recognized do amazing work to help others. One of my good friend provides support to Asian single mum from baby siting their children so they can go out to have fun to just being there for them when they feel depressed – little things like this have an positive impact on individuals life.. I truly admire these women including yourself who take time out of their busy life to make other people’s life better. I also value and appreciate the work done by organizations such as Saheli who provide outstanding support for women who have endured domestic violence – I wish more can be done do educate the victim of domestic violence about their rights in the same manner as helping those who have been subjected to abuse.
What is your approach to parenting?
It is extremely important not to forget the role of parenting in your busy life. Particularly for us as professional women, the role of a mother can be easily overlooked. Children are our future and it is extremely important to teach them the values of life and provide them with as much guidance as needed so that they can succeed. We also feel that it is important to have one meal a day as a family together, during which we discuss what’s new in our daily lives or the news of the day. Values of having a family/extended family are very important to us; to that end we try to make trips abroad so our children can spend time with our extended families- we have 15 nephews/nieces. We also encourage them to attend local cultural events, which we feel are so vital in keeping them grounded in our culture.
What do you do for fun?
Although I have always loved watching tennis, over the years, I have developed a strong interest in American Football, notably New England Patriots. My husband often comments that it is sometimes more entertaining to watch me watching the New England Patriots play than the game itself – as I tend to get very involved in the game. I also love getting together with friends and family.
Are there people who inspire you, who you would like to emulate?
There are several people who fit into this category. There are many high profile individuals I could mention who work to impact the lives to the underprivileged and they inspire me everyday.
Could you describe the influence of mentors ?
My father gave me courage, strength and support to achieve my goals. He always used to say, “if you really want something or be someone then aim for it, and one day you will get it or be someone. Never give up. If you fall or make mistakes, don’t worry, lift yourself up and move on. Dwelling on your past mistakes will lead you nowhere but picking yourself up will make you a stronger and better person.”
What kind of support have you valued most from your husband?
I have been very lucky to have married a man who has given me his utmost support both emotionally and throughout my stressful career. I would not have advanced in my career without his unconditional support. We work as a team at home as well as raising our children and he has guided me and pulled me through though times.
What is your personal philosophy of living life?
While I might not go so far as to say it is a personal philosophy for all of life, I’ve found that being honest and forthright has been a key to my happiness. While I’ve been described as blunt at times, I’ve found that being straightforward with my family, friends, employees and clients keeps expectations clear and prevents unnecessary problems due to miss-communication. Make friends with your enemies rather than fight. Words are very important. My favorite word is ‘concern.’ I use this word a lot when I think someone is at fault. I frame it as my fault and address it as my concern. You will be amazed with the difference in the response.
When there were low points in your life, what advice did you value the most to pull through?
I have gone through tough times but I always had faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel. One of my favorite poems is ‘Footprints in the Sand’ by Mary Stevenson. It was and always is comforting to read this poem during my low moments. If you can just believe that that a low moment is just a temporary phase of your life and you believe that you can pull through it, then you will with everyone’s support. I also value the support given to me by husband who always has a way of putting life back into perspective. Don’t bottle up your problems or be embarrassed to seek help. Everyone has problems but not everyone is willing to admit they have them. “Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”-Mahatma Gandhi
“My recipe for dealing with anger and frustration: set the kitchen timer for twenty minutes, cry, rant, and rave, and at the sound of the bell, simmer down and go about business as usual.” Phyllis Diller
Do you have favorite book/author?
I have many favorites but the one that comes to my mind is the Life of Pie. So much to read into this story.
Do you like to cook? What is your favorite dish to make?
I don’t enjoy cooking but when I put my mind to it, I have been told that I cook well. I have been told that I really make good pasta.
Any words of wisdom to share?
People often say “do what makes you happy,” but few rarely follow their own advice. Far too often, we get caught in the trap of perpetually stomaching unhappiness so we can achieve success later. I’m deeply humbled to be honored as a woman of influence, and there is no question that I wouldn’t have achieved any success without following all the usual axioms of hard work and “putting in the time.” However, life is short so make the most of it by doing the right thing and being happy and helping those who are less fortunate.