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Meet Ginger Jacobs of Jacobs & Schlesinger

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ginger Jacobs.

Ginger, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I graduated from law school in 1998, I did what many young law school graduates do and I accepted a job in commercial litigation with a large New York City law firm. After about a year, I moved to the New York City office of a large, multi-national law firm. I worked hard and was climbing the corporate ladder, but I felt like I was on the wrong ladder. I chased professional happiness, but it constantly eluded me.

Even though I was making great money, gaining experience, and learning from some of the most talented litigators in their fields, I wasn’t satisfied that the work I was doing was helping anyone. It didn’t make me happy, and it certainly wasn’t why I became obsessed with becoming a lawyer at age 10 or why I went to law school at 21. The proverbial “light bulb” came on for me when I took a pro bono asylum case for a political dissident from Cameroon. I had never worked so hard on a case or wanted to achieve any professional goal that badly. When we won the case, and my client was released from detention that same day, I was elated in a way that no other professional victory made me feel. I knew I had found my calling.

If we flash forward to 2018, I now have the privilege of working exclusively on cases that inspire me – immigration cases in which my team and I help people in life-changing ways. I founded Jacobs & Schlesinger with my husband, David Schlesinger, in 2004, and we now employ three other lawyers and seven non-attorney staff. Together, we handle every conceivable type of immigration case – from helping undocumented survivors of domestic violence remain in the U.S. with their children to assisting multinational corporations in hiring key employees – and federal appeals – including immigration, criminal and civil appellate matters.

Our biggest vice as a couple is talking about our work too much outside of the office, because we are always excited to share our latest victories and legal strategies with each other and seek each other’s input. It drives our ten-year-old daughter nuts! Sometimes being a business owner is challenging; I never learned how to run a business or read financial records in law school! However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my work; I love my team, and I love what we’re able to do for our clients.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Running a business is not always easy. I could happily immerse myself in my cases all day long, but that’s a luxury I can’t afford because I have a business to run. I would say my biggest challenges have come from not having any education or background in managing a small business. I have had to learn about employment law, human resources, accounting, finances, and practice management on the fly.

Early in my practice, I made a lot of decisions based on my gut instincts. Fourteen years in, I’m better at doing research, reviewing the data, and using my intellect to make decisions. Managing a law firm has more to do with managing than it does the practice of law, and that can be trying when all I want to do is read the latest case law or spend an extra half-hour with a really interesting client.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Jacobs & Schlesinger specializes in all areas of immigration and naturalization law and appellate litigation. We provide our clients with high-quality representation and excellent personal attention. We are committed to making the immigration process as understandable and accessible as possible. We are dedicated to the principles of non-discrimination and equal access to justice and serve clients of all nationalities. We have experience representing both individuals and corporations and are well-versed in the issues unique to both types of representation.

We are extremely proud of our dedication to public service. We have received several awards for our pro bono and social justice work, including from the American Bar Association Immigration Justice Project and UURISE (Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, Inc.)

We routinely partner with community non-profits on enormous legal service projects; our attorneys don’t just volunteer at a workshop once or twice a year. We run the workshops – doing everything from developing the training materials for volunteer attorneys; supervising and managing large-scale pro bono workshops, and providing pro bono legal services to community members whose cases are too complex to be adequately handled in a workshop setting. Over the last 14 years, we have helped thousands of young San Diegans to obtain and renew their DACA status and hundreds of lawful permanent residents to become citizens.

Practicing immigration law isn’t just a job for us, it’s our passion.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was a bit of a duck out of the water. I was the nerdy bookworm in an agricultural community in rural Indiana. I sometimes had a hard time making friends. I was teased and bullied. I felt like an underdog, which probably explains why I identify so strongly with my clients’ struggles and challenges. I know what it feels like to be the odd one out.

I didn’t have any power as a kid to change how other people treated me, but I sure can use my talents, education and skill set now to change how my clients are treated. This is particularly the case in removal proceedings, where the deck is always stacked against my clients. I love nothing more than achieving a victory for my clients against Goliath (aka Department of Homeland Security)!

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