Texas State continues search for immigration attorney

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Texas State continues search for immigration attorney

A justice scale in the Attorney for Students office. Photo credit: Chelsea Yohn

A justice scale in the Attorney for Students office. Photo credit: Chelsea Yohn

A justice scale in the Attorney for Students office. Photo credit: Chelsea Yohn

A justice scale in the Attorney for Students office. Photo credit: Chelsea Yohn

Sandra Sadek

Texas State administrators have opened the full-time staff attorney application for a second time as the search continues for a permanent immigration attorney to join the Office of Attorney for Students.

The search comes after the departure of Mark Kinzler, an immigration attorney who joined the Attorney for Students staff part-time October 2018 following student demands. Kinzler returned to focus solely on his private practice in Austin in September.

The duties of a staff attorney include providing legal services, advice and consultation to the student population at Texas State. The immigration attorney is responsible for assisting in legal issues like immigration, criminal matters, civil, family, contract, insurance and landlord/tenant law.

An external job posting received 40 applications in the first wave, but the university did not move forward with any of the applicants. A search committee within the Dean of Students Office will continue to review applications to determine if there are any qualified candidates.

Vice President for Student Affairs Joanne Smith said the search committee’s robust process will first pick likely candidates from the application pools for phone interviews. If successful, candidates will be brought to campus for in-person interviews and public presentations. Candidates will be ranked based on their performance and will meet with a special committee under the Dean of Students.

Smith said university administration realized they need a full-time immigration attorney to meet the needs of students on campus.

“When we initially got the position, we didn’t know what kind of demand we’d receive for this service, so that was our initial attempt to bring on someone who has that kind of experience,” Smith said. “Given our past history, given the climate and all the things going on in the country, these kinds of issues have come up more than they did in the past.”

The application will be closed after a period of four weeks. If no candidates are found, the application will stay open until suitable candidates are able to move forward with interviews, according to Dean of Students Margarita Arellano.

Arellano said the candidates must have knowledge in all areas of the law, in addition to immigration expertise.

“The specification is primarily immigration experience,” Arellano said. “We want the person to have all kinds of different experiences, which is very typical. I think we’re going to advertise (the position) a little bit differently, so we have a bigger pool (of applicants).”

The current posting states applicants must have a Juris Doctor from an accredited school of law, be licensed to practice law in Texas and be in good standing with the State Bar of Texas. Candidates must have experience in immigration law.

Director of Attorney for Students Angelica Coronado is partaking in the search process. She will eventually see and review all applications the committee deems qualified.

“I will be able to eventually see all of the applications and review them to help narrow it down to the people they do the Zoom (a video conferencing platform) interviews with,” Coronado said. “Then, whoever they invite back for the on-campus interviews, I will be participating in any of the public forums everybody else goes to. I will have a meeting with each of those individuals.”

Coronado, who has experience with immigration law, will be sharing needed services with the new hire.

“I wouldn’t want someone to wait for an appointment with her, him or they if they can get an appointment with me,” Coronado said. “I would hope I could continue to see immigrant clients as well because I obviously need to keep my skill set up. So I think they would have more than one opportunity to see either of us.”

Candidates selected from the application pool will be able to interact with students, faculty and staff through public forums to offer feedback to each candidate. This stage is expected to occur January or February 2020.

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