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Kirsten Schlenger: Thoughts on 2021 Selection to Super Lawyers

Kirsten Schlenger: Thoughts on 2021 Selection to Super Lawyers

July 19, 2021

2021 - Summer Intern Leander Cohen sat down with Kirsten Schlenger to discuss the special significance of being selected to Super Lawyers 2021, in light of COVID related immigration challenges this past year.


Managing partner Kirsten Schlenger has been named a Top-Rated Immigration Attorney in Northern California in the 2021 edition of Super Lawyers. The honor recognizes professional excellence in the immigration field and is based upon independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.

Ms. Schlenger has been recognized as a Super Lawyer each year but one since 2004, but the past year brought a new set of challenges. “I don’t think anybody who is not an immigration lawyer can even begin to imagine what it was like to be an immigration lawyer during the Trump administration,” Ms. Schlenger said. “And during the pandemic, the Administration took advantage of the situation to slide changes through that were even worse than my worst nightmares. I just never imagined it would be that bad.”

These changes included a suspension on nearly all visas obtained at US consulates outside the US and a (now delayed) wage-based system for the H-1B lottery.  “In some really perverse way it was a time when great lawyers could thrive because clients needed us to move really quickly and expertly to get them information and advice ,” Ms. Schlenger said. She added that companies who offer predominantly online technology as immigration services were not able to provide that service. “The pandemic showed us that we still need people; having human relationships is still so important.”

These human relationships are at the core of Weaver Schlenger’s identity as a firm. “Our clients seem to agree the best part about our firm is our people—we’re down-to-earth but also have the expertise and the curiosity to know more about our clients to help and counsel them.”  

Ms. Schlenger, who first practiced tax law, made the switch to immigration in 1992 and never looked back. “With immigration, you can take a policy that is important to who we are as a country and work to help people change their lives and get them the legal status they need to do great things.” She lists Weaver Schlenger, which she founded in 1995, as one of her biggest accomplishments. “We have a great atmosphere—people want to be here and we’ve been able to attract really good people.”

Along with her legal work, Ms. Schlenger has also volunteered extensively. She served on the American Immigration Council for over ten years and helped to build the organization and strengthen its position as a leading advocate for immigration reform. “We made a lot of headway to be in a position so that when Trump came along, we had the resources to combat the administration’s changes with litigation and credible information.”

But despite the stress of the Trump administration and specific challenges of the past year, Ms. Schlenger remains committed to helping clients secure their status. “There’s something really different about immigration lawyers,” she said. “There is a dedication to improving the lives of people coming to this country for a shared ideal. And there’s something very exciting about that.” A super lawyer, indeed. 

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