Still in his 40s, Harlan York has emerged as one of New Jersey's leading immigration lawyers, an energetic and high-profile presence in a technically challenging area of the law. By all accounts he's also a character - voluble, high-strung, and one of the most aggressive internet promoters of a practice of anyone in the profession. Other small firms - even large ones - could learn from his example. All his marketing energy - his videos, his blog, his links, now a book - seems to have paid off: With his practice based in ultra-diverse downtown Newark, York's firm has handled cases in Immigration Courts and Immigration Service offices throughout the state, as well as matters from Massachusetts to Georgia. York - ever candid, and with a quick intellect -- is a refreshingly independent spirit as well as an aggressive practitioner; his communication skills set him apart in a competitive field. He's quoted and interviewed frequently by the national press. Immigration is of course at the forefront of American life today, and lawyers working in the field remain cautious with their predictions, awaiting the next legislative shoe to drop: Amnesty for non-documented residents? A guest worker program? With no fewer than 11 million people living and working in America who are not officially "here," York and his colleagues in immigration law stand at the center of the storm. York's basic message to clients - that there's a logical legal process, with no shortcuts - generally resonates with his broad clientele. "We represent everyone from people who sell out stadiums performing in sports and entertainment to the folks who clean up after the crowd goes home," he says. "Our clients come from more than 120 nations. It is a truly diverse practice." He's done visa petitions for Emmy and Grammy winners and Olympic Medal winners, among others. Born in the Bronx and raised in Rockland County, New York, York says his late father, a schoolteacher, encouraged him to become a lawyer "because I never lost arguments as a kid." His educational background alone conferred an interesting blend of everyman and elitist: He received a scholarship to attend the exclusive prep school Choate Rosemary Hall ("It played a big role in my development - I was surrounded by students from families who could trace their roots back to the Colonial Era, so that helped me understand how immigrants feel when they arrive in the United States."), then received another scholarship to SUNY-Albany, majoring in Spanish. He spent three years in New Orleans at Tulane Law School, where his immigration law professor inspired him to pursue the field, which "looked rewarding and enjoyable, a specialty where you felt you could make a meaningful difference."
He practiced in New Jersey almost from the start, using his fluency in Spanish right away. He launched his own practice many years ago, which now includes four "competitive lawyers who all hate to lose" so "we win a lot of cases." What's more, York says, a hallmark of his practice is "I am absolutely obsessed with client service. I believe that our clients deserve to be treated like family, and I strive to reply to all phone calls and emails immediately." In recent years York has represented athletes with green card applications, won deportation cases for immigrants whose children have special needs, and assisted victims of violence both foreign and domestic. His firm has argued dozens of appellate cases, many of them in federal and administrative courts on issues regarding waivers of removal and political asylum. Away from the office York has coached his children's soccer teams for half a dozen years. Both his son and daughter are accomplished musicians. "My wife and I always believe in giving them our time, which is the best gift a parent can give." He lives with his family in Bergen County, New Jersey.