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Hayley Tamburello, Immigration attorney at The Law Office of Hayley Tamburello. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

New solo feels at home with immigration law

To Hayley Tamburello, no two days or cases are the same.

Since launching her own solo practice a month ago, Tamburello has represented refugees seeking asylum due to persecution and juveniles fleeing violence in their home country.

“It’s never boring — it’s never the same case over and over again,” said Tamburello. “The idea that it’ll always be changing and I won’t be stuck doing the same thing — that part of it really appeals to me.”

Although the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border into the U.S. this year has thrust the issue of immigration into the national spotlight, Tamburello became interested in immigration law several years ago during law school. She received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2013.

After studying Spanish as an undergraduate, Tamburello knew she wanted to use her language skills as a lawyer. She “fell into” the field after she began working as a translator at UB Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic. Since then, she’s worked at another solo’s firm, handling asylum and other immigration cases.

On Sept. 2, she opened The Law Offices of Hayley Tamburello LLC.

Tamburello said she’s had several clients in the first month of business, and has also taken several cases pro bono, from organizations like Kids In Need of Defense in Baltimore and Human Rights First in Washington.

Although she’s mainly handled asylum cases so far, Tamburello said her areas of practice range from U visas for immigrants who are victims of violent crime to special immigrant juvenile status for abused, abandoned or neglected children.

In the past 12 months, more than 66,000 minors have been apprehended after crossing the southern border, an increase of 88 percent from the previous year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

“The problems they face if they have to go back to their home country are grave problems,” Tamburello said. “They’re dealing with gang violence, persecution, really serious issues. We take our safety for granted here.”

Striking out on her own has had its challenges, Tamburello said, including the responsibility that comes with knowing her clients are relying solely on her advice. And although she’s been attending networking events and meeting clients, the days have run “hot and cold” in terms of how full her calendar has been, she said.

“That was originally my biggest fear, that I was going to be sitting at a desk all day with nothing to do,” she said.

The ability to make her own schedule was a huge motivation for launching her own firm — “I really wanted to have control over the types of cases I took and the way I argued them,” she said — but it’s also been beneficial to clients, since she can offer evening or weekend office hours.

“That has made a huge difference in my practice, because a lot of my clients can’t take off work to come and meet with me, or it would be a hardship to them financially to do so,” she said.

Tamburello shares office space in The Belvedere on East Chase Street with Gary Damico, a former law school classmate and fellow solo.

Damico said he plans to practice in criminal and traffic law, and is in the process of setting up a website and social media accounts for his firm, G.D. Law. After law school, Damico worked as an associate for a law firm and then as a contractor in the U.S. attorney’s office, but his goal was always to start his own firm.

“This was legitimately what I wanted to do from Day 1 of law school,” he said. “To have your own business, that’s a big dream for many, and we get to live it out within one year of being licensed.”