Emotional Income

A few days ago, I represented a young man from Brazil who legally came to the United States when he was five years old with his family to start a new life. He is 23 years old now, and works in the family business in West Palm Beach, Florida. Two times in the 18 years he was living in the United States and after receiving lawful permanent residentstatus, he was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use. While on probation for the last conviction, he was detained and sent to the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, Florida and charged with violating the immigration laws of our country. The U.S. Government intended to deport him for these two mistakes he made after practically growing up in this country.

When they came to our office to consult, his parents were both scared and mortified that their son was in this situation. They were afraid that their American dream was about to be shattered. We explained that while the immigration laws are harsh, there are certain provisions that allow for people in their son’s position to apply for waivers to allow them to remain in the United States and that these waivers are presented before an Immigration Judge during removal proceedings.

I represented the young man this week at his individual hearing at Krome. He was articulate and humbled by the experience and the Immigration Judge and Immigration Prosecutor could see that he deserved a second chance to remain with his family in this country. His parents and brother waited anxiously outside the courtroom while the hearing was being conducted as they were possible witnesses. After his testimony, however, all parties agreed that he was worthy of being granted Cancellation of Removal and the Immigration Judge ordered such without appeal from the Government.

Why do I tell this story? Lawyers, in general, are perceived as being “in it for the money”. While it is true that our law firm is a business, there is another form of income that is not often talked about. When I returned to the waiting room after the Immigration Judge granted my client’s case and told his parents that their son was going to be set free and remain in the United States with his green card, the young man’s father broke down in uncontrollable tears of joy and relief and hugged me for a minute or so without letting go.

I run a business. I market our law firm so that we can remain in business and so that the people who work here can make a living and support their families. It is times like these, however, when I witness the pure joy and relief of a father who lived in fear that he would lose his son to deportation, that I receive the “emotional income”.

Everyone at Pozo Goldstein has experienced “emotional income” as clients send cards or flowers or come to the office to hug an attorney or paralegal who worked on their case. There is a balance to everything. The trick is to be able to stay in the middle and maintain balance. “Emotional income” keeps our firm going just as much as the legal fees. It keeps us centered and on a mission and we consider ourselves lucky to be part of a profession that gives us the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.

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