This Thanksgiving, Let’s Give Thanks to Immigrants

Murthy Law Firm founder and president, Sheela Murthy, and firm member, Joel Yanovich, recently paid a visit to the law firm of DLA Piper to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and to speak about their own immigration stories. DLA Piper has offices in more than 40 countries, including a location in downtown Baltimore. Sheela and Joel were invited to speak at the Baltimore office to provide the DLA Piper legal staff with insight into the current immigration landscape, and to discuss how their personal stories had shaped their respective views on immigration law.

Sheela’s background is a quintessential American immigration story. As she explained to the DLA Piper staff, she was born in India to parents of modest means, and fell in love with this country after coming to the U.S. to attend Harvard Law School. Sheela had a difficult time with her own immigration case, navigating the bureaucratic maze, which was complex and emotionally draining. In 1994, she used this unpleasant experience as inspiration to start a different kind of immigration law firm – one that understands and appreciates just how critically important immigration is to the lives of the firm’s clients. Sheela and her husband, Vasant Nayak, also started providing free legal content on the internet, a concept that was practically unheard of at the time. As the firm prospered, Sheela recognized she had a duty to give back, becoming a philanthropist intent on helping people, both in the U.S. and in her native country of India.

Joel recounted to the crowd at DLA Piper how he grew up in Richmond, Virginia, as the son of two parents who had immigrated from Latin America. He was raised in a Spanish-speaking household, and it took his father many years to truly master the English language. His family had different customs and ate different foods from their neighbors. And all of this made Joel keenly aware through his formative years of what it meant to be an immigrant. It therefore seemed only natural for him to start practicing immigration law in Los Angeles as soon as he graduated from law school. Joel joined the Murthy Law Firm in 2011, and is a valued part of the legal team.

Sheela and Joel are hardly alone at the Murthy Law Firm in their having a strong, personal connection to the American immigrant experience, well before beginning work in the field of immigration law. Many of the firm’s staff, including attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, accountants, and client service representatives, are first or second-generation immigrants to the United States. As with the pilgrims, who braved the Atlantic Ocean to make a new life in a distance land, the immigrants still finding their way to America’s shores are seeking safe and prosperous futures for themselves and their families. We should take a moment this Thanksgiving to be thankful for our lives in this country, with the understanding that immigrants helped build this country, and continue to make this country great!


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