Greg Pietrzak has over 16 years of experience in providing legal advice and representation to individual and business clients on a broad range of immigration matters. He is currently a Partner at Macina & Pietrzak, LLC, an immigration Law firm which specializes in Family and Employment based immigration. On occasion, he handles a few asylum cases. Mr. Pietrzak received his JD from New York Law School (NYLS).
When did you first begin volunteering with the Safe Passage Project?
Mr. Pietrzak: I started volunteering with the Safe Passage Project as a Pro-bono attorney in May 2012. I am now on my third case.
What inspired you to volunteer with the Safe Passage Project?
Mr. Pietrzak: As a student at NYLS, I participated in an immigration clinic where I worked on a successful asylum case for a Burundian national. After graduation, I maintained a relationship with the school and Professor Benson. When Professor Benson told me about the Safe Passage Project, I realized that it was similar to the clinic that I participated in as a student at NYLS. At that point, I was eager to volunteer with the Project.
What do you like most about volunteering with the Safe Passage Project?
Mr. Pietrzak: As a pro-bono attorney with the Safe Passage Project, I get to use my talent and skills as a lawyer to have a positive impact in the lives of the children who are victims of terrible situations in their home countries and sometimes in the United States. It is a very rewarding experience to see the joy and relief on the faces of the children and their families when they are told that there are immigration options that could allow the child/children to remain in the United States. Being a part of the Safe Passage Project truly makes me feel like I am a part of something unique and powerful.
What is your overall impression of the Safe Passage Project?
Mr. Pietrzak: I am very inspired by the work the Safe Passage Project does and the service the Project provides to children and families that otherwise would not know where to turn to get representation. I am especially impressed with the level of commitment that each Pro-bono attorney, the NYLS staff and volunteers exhibit in representing the children. It is refreshing to see that everyone that volunteers with the Project really wants to be there.
What kind of impact has volunteering with the Safe Passage Project had on you as a lawyer?
Mr. Pietrzak: Volunteering with the Safe Passage children affirms why I decided to practice immigration law – to help people. When you are building a successful law practice, it is easy to lose sight that the bottom line is the client. However, volunteering with Safe Passage Project helps me to maintain perspective that the law is always about the clients. Volunteering with the Project has also reinvigorated me in representing my own clients. Safe Passage Project has also helped me become a more rounded lawyer because in order to adequately represent the children, I have to become familiar with certain aspects of family and criminal law.
How do you find the time to run a successful law practice and volunteer with the Project?
Mr. Pietrzak: Somehow I make the time. Although volunteering with the Safe Passage Project requires more time and commitment that I originally anticipated, the impact that the representation has on the lives of the children makes the time committed on each representation worthwhile.
Do you Volunteer or do probono work with any other organization?
Mr. Pietrzak: Yes I volunteer work with the American Immigration Law Association (AILA) and CUNY Citizenship Project.
Do you have any hobbies?
Mr. Pietrzak: Yes, whenever I get the time, I like hiking, minor league baseball games and weekend getaways with my wife and two children.
***Attorney of the Week feature by Safe Passage Advocate Nicola Chambers, NYLS student Class of 2014
Website for Mr. Pietrzak”s firm: www.mplawusa.com