Faculty Training Page
Barbara Weiner is a senior staff attorney with the Empire Justice Center in its Albany, New York office, a public interest law firm focused on the legal needs of the poor. The Empire Justice Center provides technical support, training and litigation support to the field offices of New York’s legal services programs and to community advocacy organizations throughout the state. It also advocates on an administrative and legislative level on behalf of the legal needs of low income New Yorkers.
Barbara is a 1976 graduate of Golden Gate University College of Law in San Francisco, California, and has spent her entire career working for legal services programs. She has been with the Empire Justice Center for 20 years. There she has focused her efforts on public benefits issues. In response to the legal service community’s need, she has developed a familiarity with immigration law, focusing particularly on the intersection between immigration status and public benefit eligibility. She has regularly written articles for the Legal Services Journal and has provided training to legal services programs and community organizations on these topics.
In addition to her state-wide training and technical support responsibilities, during her tenure at the Empire Justice Center, Barbara has co-counseled with the New York Legal Aid Society and other legal services programs in several major impact lawsuits to remedy systemic problems in the delivery of public benefits to poor New Yorkers.
Patrick Young is an immigration attorney and immigrant rights advocate. He has represented thousands of immigrants before the immigration courts, the INS, and the Department of Homeland Security. He served as co-counsel on two successful Federal class action lawsuits challenging discrimination against immigrants and he wrote the winning brief in the United States Court of Appeals case that established the standard of eligibility for political asylum in the Second Circuit.
Patrick was the founding Chairperson of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance and served seven terms as the Chair of the Board of the New York Immigration Coalition, the largest state immigrant coalition in the United States. He was a founder of the national Committee for U.S. Action on Asylum Concerns, which later merged into the National Immigration Forum.
He is a co-founder of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table which works to increase civic activism in immigrant communities and he is a founding member of the Long Island Language Access Coalition.
He served on the board of Nassau County Coordinating Agency for Hispanic Americans as well as the Nassau County Task Force on Immigration. He was also a member of the expert advisory council to the New York State Interagency Task Force on New Americans during the (Mario) Cuomo Administration.
He is currently Program Director of the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN-N.Y.) and is the former Supervising Attorney at the Westchester Hispanic Coalition. He is Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra University School of Law and he writes for the popular web site Long Island Wins. He is also Policy Analyst for the New York State Immigrant Action Fund and the principal writer for the Fund’s web site.
A graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, Patrick is currently writing a history of immigrant participation in the American Civil War. He was admitted to practice in NY State in March 1986.
Emma Buckthal received her JD summa cum laude from the University at Buffalo Law School, and her BA magna cum laude from Alfred University. She joined the Volunteer Lawyers Project full time in fall 2010. Since then, she has focused her legal work on representing immigrant survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking before USCIS, EOIR, and ICE. She also serves as the NGO attorney representative on the Western District of New York Human Trafficking Taskforce. Before joining VLP full time, she volunteered at VLP for three years as a student intern, and spent summers at Kalikova & Associates in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and Chadbourne and Parke LLP in New York, New York. She also taught English in Taiwan before attending law school. She was admitted to NY 4th Department in 2011
Samuel Rock, Esq. is with the Rock Law Group, PLC and Rock and Hardin Tax Professionals. He practices torts, immigration and tax law. He is a designated PALE attorney for the Mexican Consulate for the state of Kentucky. He has a law office in Atlanta and Lexington, KY. Rock and Hardin Tax Professionals office is located in Atlanta, GA. They accept cases from through the United States and abroad. Rock & Hardin’s practice specifically focuses tax issues for the foreign born and tax controversy and debt. They often use their expertise to assist immigration lawyers resolve their clients’ tax issues in removal, adjustment of status, consular processing and Citizenship cases. Sam Rock gained his knowledge about low income tax issues over when the owned and operated a Spanish speaking tax service that catered to low-income undocumented workers for almost 10 years. In 2009 and early 2010 served as the National Co-Director of ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) Business Program at Jackson Hewitt. He has been the panel leader for tax issues for immigration lawyers at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) national conference and frequently presents on at regional conferences. He has published three articles for AILA and another in Tax Notes. The Tax Notes article discusses tax preparer diligence and the tax consequences of immigration reform. He has appeared twice on Fox Business Network as an expert on tax issues and tax fraud.
Amy joined Fragomen from NY Law School in 2003. While attending law school, she worked full time as the Chief Aide to the President of the American Civil Liberties Union. Amy also served as the Executive Editor of the New York Law School Journal of Human Rights. Upon graduation, she received the Alexander D. Forger Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession.
Amy represents an array of international corporate clients in the architectural, payment services, news, financial services, and information technology industries. She provides counsel on all major employment-based temporary and permanent visa categories, family-based permanent resident applications, and immigration compliance. Amy also served as a member of Fragomen’s Associate Committee.
Jose Enrique Perez is admitted to practice law in New York (2008), New Jersey (2007), and Venezuela (1999). Jose began his career as an attorney in Venezuela. Jose’s outstanding Venezuelan practice was recognized several times by the Miranda State Bar Association, which awarded him with honors in three different years.
In 2002, Jose decided to come to the United States to further develop himself academically and professionally. In 2004, Jose was admitted to Syracuse University College of Law, where he graduated cum laude. During law school, Jose clerked for a US District Court in Florida.
Jose joined the Smith Sovik law firm in 2007. Since joining the firm, Jose was involved in all areas of litigation. Jose has been and is a member of the Latin American Law Student Association; Hispanic National Bar Association; Black Law Student Association; DRI; American Bar Association; New Jersey State Bar; New York State Bar; Law Students in Action Project-Spanish Translation and Interpretation Assistance Team; Onondaga County Bar Association; AILA, among others.
In 2012, Jose decided to open his new and independent law firm. After opening the Law Offices of Jose Perez, Jose has been involved in all areas of litigation, including construction, labor and employment, premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, workers’ compensation, SSI/SSD, and immigration. Jose has been a speaker/panelist at numerous events dealing with his legal practice, Workers’ Compensation, and immigration issues. Jose also has a “Know-Your-Rights” column in the CNY Latino newspaper.
Jose has received numerous awards in New York State:
• 2009 Latino Leadership Award;
• 2010 40 Under 40 Rising Latino Star in New York State;
• 2011 HNBA Presidential Pro Bono Recognition Award;
• 2011 40 Under 40 of Central New York;
• 2011 Service Award in Recognition of Outstanding Pro Bono Service;
• 2012 New York State Bar Association Empire State Counsel; among others.
Jose has dedicated countless hours to community service. Jose has been representing clients successfully before the immigration courts and the USCIS on a pro-bono basis. The Fifth Judicial District ProBono Action Now Program, a probono program that was funded by the New York State Unified Court System, Catholic Charities of Tioga/Tompkins Counties, and The Worker's Rights Group, a Syracuse task force, which advocates for immigrants in Central New York, have referred ProBono cases to Jose for representation in several fields.
Jose is the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of Nosotros Radio Inc. Nosotros’ mission is to provide quality Spanish & English language radio entertainment combined with on-air education for the encouragement and strengthening of the Latino community, and the promotion of intercultural sharing among Central New York’s diverse communities. Jose is also the Vice President of the League of United Latin American Citizens-(LULAC), Syracuse-NY-chapter, a Board Advisor of Syracuse University La Casita, and an Ad-hoc member of the Civil Rights Committee of Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse.
Aleksander Milch graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University in 1997 and admitted to the New York State Bar in 1998. He has been in practice as an attorney for over 14 years. For the past 7 years, he practiced almost exclusively in the area of Immigration and Nationality law, with heavy emphasis on asylum (at the affirmative, EOIR, BIA and U.S. Court of Appeals levels).
Here are his bar admission dates:
New York State—2/4/98
Eastern District of New York—8/26/99
Southern District of New York---7/10/00
Northern District of New York—1/26/04
Western District of New York—3/26/04
Maureen Ketler Schad is the KIND Fellow/Senior Staff Attorney at The Door’s Legal Services Center, where she represents immigrant youth in removal proceedings. She previously worked at The Door as the 2007-2009 Chadbourne & Parke Fellow representing youth in a wide range of immigration and family court proceedings. Maureen graduated from New York University School of Law, where she worked with NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, Make The Road New York, and The Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Unit. Prior to law school, Maureen was a public benefits and housing advocate at The Legal Aid Society for several years, and worked as a founding program coordinator for Project HEALTH, creating resource and advocacy centers for adolescents and families at public hospitals in Boston and New York. Maureen was admitted to practice in New York 7/2008.
U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit—2/7/05
U.S. Court of Appeals for Third Circuit—6/15/05
U.S. Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit—11/10/05
U.S. Court of Appeals for First Circuit—12/19/05
C. Mario Russell is senior attorney at Catholic Charities, Immigration Legal Services Senior Attorney: Catholic Charities, and an adjunct professor at St. John’s University School of Law, New York School of Law
Mr. Russell conducts federal administrative and U.S. Court of Appeals litigation in asylum and immigration law matters and teaches/supervises litigation clinics at the St. John’s University School of Law and New York Law School. He has taught courses on general immigration law and on protection and human rights in Europe. Mr. Russell has served as consultant for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Hungary and Poland, has advised the National Commission on Migration in Thailand, has lectured and trained extensively on asylum law and human rights throughout the Untied States and the New York area, and advises on lawyering in the public interest as a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. Mr. Russell has served on the New York City Bar Association, the Board of Directors of the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Federal Litigation Section of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association. In conjunction with the NYSCC Public Policy Committee and other regional and national organizations, Mr. Russell also conducts legislative advocacy on issues such as comprehensive immigration reform and refugee protection issues. Previously, he served as Regional Director for CLINIC, where he provided technical and litigation support to diocesan programs throughout the United States, he worked as a litigation associate at Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin and Kahn, and he served for two years as judicial law clerk on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
Bar admissions: NY 1996, DC 1995, MD 1993.
Thomas J. Shea, Esq. is a Senior Staff Attorney with CUNY Citizenship Now!, which is a nonprofit immigration legal service organization providing free immigration legal services throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Mr. Shea provides mentoring, training, and technical assistance to CUNY Citizenship Now!’s legal staff. Before coming to CUNY, Mr. Shea served as the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the New York Immigration Coalition from October 2006 through September 2012. Prior to working with the NYIC, Mr. Shea practiced for ten years with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). Mr. Shea represented naturalization cases and coordinated group naturalization processing workshops for CLINIC in Washington, DC before transferring to CLINIC’s El Paso, Texas office, where he represented detained asylum seekers before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) immigration court. Mr. Shea then transferred to CLINIC’s New York City office where he represented non-detained asylum seekers and applicants for adjustment of status and cancelation of removal before the EOIR immigration court. Mr. Shea has developed training curricula for CLINIC and presented on such topics as citizenship and naturalization, relief from removal, and victims of human trafficking. Mr. Shea has lengthy experience training on Family-based Immigration Law, Citizenship & Naturalization, Waivers & Exceptions to Select Grounds of Inadmissibility, Public Charge and the Affidavit of Support, Adjustment of Status, Relief in Removal Proceedings, and Unlawful Presence. Mr. Shea was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in December 1996 and to the Washington State Bar in May 1998.
Walter Ruehle has practiced immigration law for over three decades in three law offices that provide legal representation to the poor. For the last 18 years, one of the concentrations of his practice has been asylum representation. He has handled numerous appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Currently, he is the director of the Immigration Program of the Legal Aid Society of Rochester. He is also the director of the Upstate New York Immigration Law Program, a partnership between his office and the immigration programs of legal aid offices in Syracuse and Albany. Professor Ruehle is a 1976 graduate of SUNY Oneonta (high honors) and a 1979 graduate of Albany Law School of Union University.