Spojmie Nasiri / Louis Goodman – Transcript

Louis Goodman / Spojmie Nasiri – Transcript


Link to Podcast:


Louis Goodman 00:05
Welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. I’m Louis Goodman. Today we welcome Spojmie Nasiri to the podcast. Mrs. Nasiri is an experienced immigration attorney with a passion for helping immigrants navigate the often complex and intimidating United States immigration system.

She’s been inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame, and has been recognized by Congressman Eric Swalwell in the congressional record for her pro bono service to the Afghan community. Following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, she traveled to seven of eight military bases on the East Coast to provide legal services to Afghan allies.

Perhaps most impressive, she bore three children while in law school, and her husband was simultaneously in medical school. Spojmie Nasiri, welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast.

Spojmie Nasiri 01:12
Good morning, Louis. Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be here and join you this morning.

Louis Goodman 01:16
It’s a pleasure to have you. Where are you speaking to us from right now?

Spojmie Nasiri 01:20
So I’m in one of my offices in Pleasanton, California.

Louis Goodman 01:24
How long have you been in that location?

Spojmie Nasiri 01:27
You know, I started at this location when I first opened my office in 2011. I went, you know, solo and I had virtual office here for a couple years, and then eventually I built it up to have three offices in the same location.

Louis Goodman 01:41
Fantastic. How long have you been practicing law?

Spojmie Nasiri 01:44
I’ve been licensed since 2006, but I’ve been doing immigration since 2011.

Louis Goodman 01:50
And where are you from originally?

Spojmie Nasiri 01:52
I was born in Akia, Afghanistan. And I came to the U. S. when I was around five or six years old.

Louis Goodman 02:00
And when you came to the United States, where did you and your family live?

Spojmie Nasiri 02:03
When we migrated here as refugees, we were sponsored by a Catholic church in Orinda and we ended up in Concord, California. So I’ve spent my whole life in the Bay Area. I grew up in Concord and then just kind of gravitated towards Pleasanton as I got older.

Louis Goodman 02:19
Did you go to high school in Concord?

Spojmie Nasiri 02:21
I went to, yeah, I went to elementary, middle school and high school in Concord.

Louis Goodman 02:26
What was that experience like being from Afghanistan and then living in Concord, which is sort of quintessential America, quintessential California.

Spojmie Nasiri 02:37
You know, growing up in a predominantly Caucasian community, I think it was tough, but it was also interesting cause there were a lot of, I remember coming in as a kindergarten. And I still remember my kindergarten teacher because I didn’t speak English and all of their, the students, the teacher was very kind and she kind of like told everyone that I didn’t speak English yet. I thought it’s such a wonderful experience. I still remember it. Everybody helping me trying to teach me and I believe it or not, I still have friends from, from, from elementary school now.

So as I got older, I think I was trying to find identity and being conquered and being one of the only few Muslims or Afghans. I think it empowered me. I was involved in student government and I always made it to do cultural events to include other cultures and we did cultural shows. And so, and being in student leadership, I think I always made it a point to let people know where I was from, what faith I practice, and it was a really good experience for me.

Louis Goodman 03:39
When you graduated from high school, where did you go to college?

Spojmie Nasiri 03:43
After I graduated from high school, I went straight to UC Davis out of Davis.

Louis Goodman 03:48
Did you enjoy Davis?

Spojmie Nasiri 03:50
I did. I very much enjoyed it. I think it was an experience. It was a bit of a challenge. I had two older siblings and then I have two younger siblings and then I’m in the middle.

Because my older siblings had gone to a community college and transferred to a college university, I had gone because I’d done well, I’d gone straight to Davis. There was a pushback from my father who didn’t think that I should go to community. And so I was the rebel, I guess I would say in my family and I pushed back with my dad and I said, you can’t stop me. I’m going. So my mom was supportive. And so I ended up going straight to Davis and it was a really amazing experience and full circle. My daughter’s there now. So I told her about the thing that we do and stuff like that. And the great thing was I met my husband in college. So we got married in college. So yeah, it was a great experience overall.

Louis Goodman 04:41
When you graduated. From Davis, you ultimately went to law school. Did you take some time off or did you go straight through?

Spojmie Nasiri 04:48
I took a gap year to study for the LSAT while my husband was studying for the MCAT and then the following year after graduation, I went to law school.

Louis Goodman 04:58
Besides doing the studying, did you do anything else? Did you do any work or intern or anything like that?

Spojmie Nasiri 05:04
At that time? No, I was studying for the LSAT and then my husband ended up in med school far away, so I joined him for a couple months. And then I came back and started law school.

Louis Goodman 05:15
You’ve been pretty open about this. And I’m curious if you could tell us a little bit about your early family situation, because I know there were some times when you and your family were separated and I’m wondering if you could kind of talk about that a little bit.

Spojmie Nasiri 05:30
Yeah. So when I was young, I lived in the village of Afghanistan, sort of the remote villages with my mom and my father was in Kabul, which is the capital of Afghanistan.

And he had, my mother was the first wife that he, my father had a second wife. And at the time when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, my father left with his wives and kids, and we were left in the village with my mother and uncles. And then a year or so later, we took the journey from Afghanistan to Pakistan by foot, we traveled, I believe it or not, I still remember the vivid memories of walking through the night, because the Soviets, were bombing in the during the daytime, we made it to Pakistan with a lot of other immediate relatives, uncles and aunts. When we were in Pakistan, my father requested my siblings and I to join him, but my mother was unable to join because she was, you know, polygamy is not allowed in Germany or the U.S. So she made the tough decision of sending three of five kids to Germany to be with my father. And I was one of them. And then we spent a few years in Germany and then migrated over to the United States. Two of my siblings, one of my siblings joined us. So I lived with my stepmother and my father for a few years.

The family life wasn’t as great as we want it to be. So there was a lot of, you know, just a lot of issues there. So my brother at that age decided that we wanted to go live by ourselves. So my father rented a home for us. And so my older brother at that time was around 16. My sister was, I think, 15 and I was young. And my younger brother. So we sort of lived on our own in Concord and my father would come check up on us.

Louis Goodman 07:19
Do you recall living in Germany at all? I mean, what was that like?

Spojmie Nasiri 07:23
The best I can describe Germany was just very hard not having my mom. And I think it was very cold and always gloomy. For me and when I think of Germany, I’d sound silly, but it reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock movies, really dark and gloomy. So. I didn’t really enjoy Germany that much.

Louis Goodman 07:39
Well, welcome to sunny California, I guess. When you graduated from college, you said that you took a year off and then went to law school. Where’d you go to law school?

Spojmie Nasiri 07:49
I went to law school at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Louis Goodman 07:52
What was that experience like being in the big city?

Spojmie Nasiri 07:55
Well, at that time, because my husband and I had gotten married during college, my mom lived in, by that time, as I got older, about seven years after I had been separated with my mom, I remember being in many, many immigration offices in Oakland. So my mom was finally able to join us when I was a teenager, about six, seven years after we had been separated.

So I lived with her during, you know, my high school years and then in college, I was in college and I got married in college. So traditionally in Afghan culture, you got to live with your in laws. So at that time, my husband went off to med school and I lived in Union City, and I commuted to law school to San Francisco daily.

I was a day student, but I commuted back and forth. So I didn’t really live there, but I went to school there. And it was, I don’t know, I don’t know if people can say they either loved or hate law school. It was always the struggle for me.

Louis Goodman 08:48
I’ll bet it was. And I’ll also imagine that your experience of law school, even at the time with your contemporaries at school, was just an experience that was obviously very different than the other people who you were in school with.

Spojmie Nasiri 09:03
Yes, it was and I was always struggling to manage everything and it was just yeah I think I reflect back on it and I don’t know how it was done because my daughter wants to go to law school now and she’ like I don’t know mom, I can’t even keep up with my studies, how did you manage it? So I said, you just do it.

Louis Goodman 09:22
This is kind of a two-part question. And one is, when did you first start really thinking about being a lawyer? When did it occur to you that law would be a good job, a good career, a good calling for you? And then at what point did you actually decide, okay, I’m going to really apply and I’m going to send in the money and take the LSAT and go to law school?

Spojmie Nasiri 09:47
So, you know, sometimes in life experiences, experiences affect the decisions that you make. So for me, as odd as it sounds, I had never wanted to be anything but a lawyer. And I think the injustices of being separated from my mother and the unfairness and how cruel it was, I think I always wanted to be a lawyer. I can’t say, I can’t pivot a point in life to say this is when it clicked.

I couldn’t imagine being anything outside of an attorney all my life. And I think, and then a culturally in Afghan cultures or Middle Eastern cultures, usually, you know, used to the doctor engineer, you know, those were the doctor, engineers. Lawyers were not so much up there in that category, particularly for, for a female.

My brother and sister are both physicians and I was third in line and my father kept saying, well, if you can’t be a doctor, be a nurse. So medicine is not my thing. I can’t stay in hospitals. I, as a child, when I was in fourth grade, I was hit by a drunk driver and spent quite a bit of time in the hospital with a coma.

So for me, a hospital is not something that I was interested in. So despite not having role models, despite my father, you know, downgrading it, I never imagined anything. Law was something that there was no other option. So I just went with the flow, but I didn’t have any support system in terms of turning to people that I could say, well, how did you take the outside? What did you do? The things that I share with my daughter now who’s going through it is significantly different than what I went through. And what many people of color of first generation go through.

Louis Goodman 11:28
When you graduated from law school, you didn’t really go right into the practice of law because you had children. Is that correct?

Spojmie Nasiri 11:36
So I graduated in 2003. When I graduated, my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer. And then at that time I had three children. I had my, well, at that time I had two children and my first year, my second year, and I was eight months pregnant when I graduated in May. So my daughter was born in August after I graduated and I’m grateful for the family support that I had because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to make it.

I lived with my in-laws. And my mother-in-law and my sister in law, everybody, they were young. They all helped out and take the village to raise a kid. It’s a true saying. So I stayed, I stayed home. My husband was doing his fellowship at UC Davis. So I ended up going and taking care of the kids for about three years. So I graduated in 2003 and got licensed in 2006.

Louis Goodman 12:27
After you got licensed what sort of practice did you go into and where did you do that?

Spojmie Nasiri 12:32
So when I had the Missouri scholarship at UC Davis Medical Center, but we lived in Davis full circle, I had gone to college there and then I was there for about three years and I really wanted to do some work. And before that I was doing contract work for like real estate, family law. Nothing was really hitting the heart. I just, I found it meaningless. It’s even, I did asbestos litigation. So when I went back to Davis, I started volunteering at the UC Davis Immigration Legal Clinic. It was the first of its kind in the country where they actually represented detainees.

So I would go with the professors from Davis, UC Berkeley, and other locations, and we would go to Mayorsville Detention Center, Richmond Detention Center, Martinez, and we would do actual case representations. And I did that for about three years pro bono. But I would represent the detainees in immigration court in San Francisco.

So I would drive from Davis to Richmond and then take BART to San Francisco. And I represented detainees in court. And I was grateful to be able to do that because a colleague of my husband’s wife lived in Davis and she was home. So she would help take care of the kids sometimes when I had to do that pro bono work. And that’s where I fell in love with immigration even more than I had before.

Louis Goodman 13:52
I know you have a passion for helping out Afghan refugees and that you speak Pashto and Dari. When you were working with the immigrants in San Francisco, my notion of is that most of them probably spoke Spanish. And I’m wondering how that worked out for you?

Spojmie Nasiri 14:13
At that time. It was interesting. I had Spanish speaking clients who spoke English. I didn’t speak Spanish, so I was given the English-speaking clients to represent in court. And it was just a surreal experience because some of them, I recall one, he was going to be deported on that Monday. I worked around the clock and the professor says, Spojmie, this is a very tough case, you know, this is not going to be possible, he may get deported.

Well, I did everything, and I worked through the weekend and I went early to court and we were able to stop the deportation. And then eventually I represented him and I was able to get him back his resident card. So the professor was like very impressed because it was the first case I had done. And she said, usually it’s very rare that that happens.

And that just built that love and that interest to be able to change lives as, as attorneys. Yes, we change lives. No matter what practice area we’re doing. For me, I hadn’t been separated from my mom for so many years. I haven’t been an immigration officer wondering what were we doing here as young kids.

And then having that experience, taking him back and, and paying it forward, I think was pivotal. And then the interest that I do in immigration law.

Louis Goodman 15:28
Can you tell us a little bit about the practice that you have now?

Spojmie Nasiri 15:35
So interestingly, when I had the three years of experience at UC Davis, I really wanted to come back to the Bay Area. My husband had finished his fellowship. He’d had offers at Davis and other places, but I said, I need to go back to the Bay Area. And so when we came back to the Bay Area and how we decided to live a pleasant and similar to Davis, the schoolings and everything. And to be honest, I had a hard time finding a job.

I remember going to an interview and an attorney told me because I had, I had a graduate in 2003 and I took, I passed the bar in 2006, I was studying on and off, the first thing she said to me is, and it was interesting and I don’t know why she would say that. She said, I’m assuming you failed the bar quite a few times if you, you got licensed in 2006. And I looked at her and I said, can’t say what I said here, but I looked at her and I said, well, you can shove your assumptions. I had a mother who died of cancer and I have three kids under three. I was a bit focused on that. So then I just left and I was having a hard time finding a job and I did not want my children to be in daycare.

So my husband kept saying, well, you have three years of immigration experience. Most people don’t have that. Why don’t you open up a law office. Well, having gone through experience of even going to law school, having no role models, having no support, having nothing. I don’t know anything about a law office that open. I just knew how to be a lawyer. So I took the plunge and I had a virtual office and I built it. And so I’ve had my office. I’ve never really worked for anyone other than UC Davis. And it was tough. It was. You know, there are people that would be helpful. You would reach out to them. There nowadays there’s so much support system, particularly from the Alameda County bar associations, from San Francisco bar, from the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

They have schools on how to open up your law office. And so it was really tough when my husband had just started working and we had three kids and financially, he’s like, can you just do a little bit of money so we can just pay the bills? I said, okay, let me try. So when I started and said, that’s where I’ve been since 2011, I opened up my own office and just kind of built it from scratch.

Louis Goodman 17:48
You obviously have a lot of talent. There’s lots of things that you could do. You’ve indicated that you’ve always kind of considered yourself a lawyer. What is it that you really like about practicing law? And what is it that keeps you as a lawyer?

Spojmie Nasiri 18:03
In all the experiences of helping our clients, many of us, you know, it drives us, right? It drives us. I think the most important thing any individual can have, whether you’re a lawyer or not, is integrity, trust, and care. And particularly for immigrants who are very vulnerable, taking advantage of, I would say 60 to 70 percent of my clients are Hispanics. My staff speaks Spanish. I understand it. I just don’t speak it as well.

You see how much they’ve been abused, taken advantage of, given false hope. And to be able to have someone come in and trust you wholeheartedly to do that. To for them to have spent 20, 30 years in the U S and you’re helping them navigate the immigration system. And then to tell them you need to go abroad to your home country and come back.

That’s extreme trust and responsibility. And having been reunited with my own mother after all those years and lost my childhood. When I do these cases, I think about that.

When the fall of Kabul or 2020 went to the Taliban. I remember my clients and I have a large Afghan clientele, but I have clients from all over the world.

So Afghans are sometimes attorneys are known for a particular group. I’m grateful to say I represent clients from all over the world. I don’t have one large. I remember when Kabul found my client because of the day nighttime difference, clients were calling me at nighttime, daytime, you know, saying, no, how do we evacuate from the chaos at the airport?

And then navigating that system and then daytime people, hundreds of people calling, how do we get out? Do we go to the North gate do we go to the South gate? Then the suicide bombings happened at the gates. And then I was just like, I cannot tell people which gates to go at. This is extreme. And I remember, you know, living off of migraine medicine and PEPSA because I just couldn’t function.

Many of us in immigration practitioners all over the country. And so with AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, we started, a whole bunch of us started trying to figure out what we can do. And at that time, it was a really tough time for me personally, because it was COVID. My husband is a pulmonologist. So he was really extremely, you know, involved in the COVID and I never really saw him and my two of the three kids were going to go away to college at the same time, because my son had spent the year before at home and it was really hard to say, okay, I’m going to be an empty nester. How am I going to deal with this?

And I thought, well, God has a way of making things work out. And I remember dropping my son off in Irvine, coming back the same night, dropping my daughter off at Davis the next day and literally just jumping on a plane, going to the military bases. What drove me to that? I didn’t have an end game. I didn’t know what I was going to help or accomplish, but I knew that I spoke Pashto, I knew that I spoke Dari.

And I knew that I was a competent immigration attorney. And so we went, I went to the military bases once a week for a month on a pro bono basis. And we did, you know, legal representations and talk to them. And there were thousands and thousands of allies on the different bases. And sometimes I came home really PTSD.

I guess I would call it secondary PTSD because some of the bases were like, for example, in the middle of the New Mexico desert. With huge like circus like tents with Afghans, you know, and you’re speaking to them and there’s soldiers and there’s children running around. They don’t know I’m Afghan. As soon as I would speak, they would just come and gravitate.

And you would think that these are your people. These are, you know, the trauma that they went through just to get on a cargo plane, to get to the US and then what they were experiencing. I remember an elder gentleman, to keep it short, I remember an elder gentleman grabbing his naked daughter by the arm and pushing her and he starts speaking Pashto to me and he says, what am I going to do with her?

What am I going to do with her? And I said, well, uncle, what’s going on? And he said, my wife, my children, everybody got separated at the airport. And I only got her. Now their understanding was their family members were going to be on the next plane coming to join them. The reality is they’re not going to see their families for a decade or so.

And so I told him, please stop pulling or let me just help you. And he goes, what do you know, you American girl? And I told him I’ve been separated from my own mom. And so I know the feeling. It was surreal to go. And I reflect on those, those experiences that actually make me more compassionate when I see clients coming in.

And I think to be the best of person, to be the best of human being is to do the right thing when no one’s looking. And so that’s really, I think I built my practice on integrity and honesty and empathy, because I feel like God just brought me to, and not to get religious or anything, but I wasn’t a product of connection that got me to America, you know, I came here by chance, I had this opportunity to become a lawyer, and I just want to be able to give that back because I’ve been privileged so much to get so much in life.

Louis Goodman 23:19
You’ve mentioned starting your own practice, building your own practice, building your own book of business. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about some thoughts you have, maybe some advice you might have about building a business and what it’s like to be in business as an attorney?

Spojmie Nasiri 23:37
I think the best advice I can give to people is and I say that to my own children is reach out to people, reach out to mentors.

The worst thing that someone can do is say no. There are so many wonderful, amazing mentors. There’s so many wonderful people that are willing to share, that are willing to give. And you may encounter some that may not be as, as giving as you would like them to be. And what I tell young people, I’m involved in a lot of civil rights organizations and Afghan organizations and board on a national council on American Islamic relations, just civil rights work.

And I have a lot of young attorneys reach out about wanting to open their practice about wanting to get guidance. And I think the best thing that we can do is reach out, be motivated, not be discouraged. It is tough. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. But I think just staying focused and reaching out for help.

And now there’s so much help available versus when we started our practice, where we felt so isolated.

Louis Goodman 24:37
What mistakes do you think lawyers make?

Spojmie Nasiri 24:39
I wouldn’t necessarily say a mistake. One thing I’ve never understood as busy as we all are, I think it’s very, very important to be able to build a structure in your law office to return clients calls.

And now I know that you can’t call every time they call and you set a boundary. But a lot of times when I get people coming from other attorneys, they will say that I never hear from my attorney. I call and I ask, I think building a practice where you make it a system that you at least have some sort of a communication with a client, because If you’re doing everything right, and you’re not communicating with a client, then they don’t know the work that you are doing.

And nowadays people are easy to lash out on social media, you know, on attorneys, on anybody, not that that’s a deterrent for me, but I just feel like at least update the clients to a certain degree. And I think a lot of attorneys just take on so much that they’re not able to do that or have their staff do that. So that that’s what I would say.

Louis Goodman 25:43
I want to shift gears here a little bit and ask you how in your very, very busy career and very, very busy family life, how you’ve put those two things together?

Spojmie Nasiri 25:56
I think as a mother, there’s always a struggle to build work life balance. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I did do that.

I don’t have boundaries in my work. I think I tried not checking emails in the evenings, but that’s the only time I have to do that. I am what I’ve, what I pride myself on is the fact that not everyone has the luxury to do that is. I pride myself on the fact that I had my own practice where I never put my children in daycare.

I never put them in afterschool programs. When they were younger, I was always juggling between clients. And then taking them to their extracurricular activities, whether it’s piano, karate, soccer, basketball, whatever it may be. Then also making sure that I cooked food for them daily, make sure they had food.

I think it’s important to reflect because at the end of it, you can never do it all. I would say I was half good mother, half good lawyer, half good wife, because I never felt like I was good enough at any of it. I think it’s really hard as women, particularly, I’m not going to say, I would just say as, as women with responsibilities for motherhood and, and home responsibilities, I am grateful for my husband who has always been supportive.

And I think having that support is really, really important. And then, you know, having good mentors and colleagues to lean on when you need assistance. I think building a cohesive environment is really important.

Louis Goodman 27:20
Are there any recreational activities that you or you and your family enjoy doing? Kidding. I grew up going camping at Lake Tahoe.

So I’ve been to most campsites. So in the summertime, I love to go again, if we can go camping right now. And we try to take vacations with the kids as much as we can. We went, we went to Turkey. I love to travel, but. It’s very limited with both my husband and the kids’ schedules. I think just keeping it sane, is just exercising every day.

I take one hour to go to the gym and no matter what time it is, I’m like, I have to do that. That keeps me sane. But other than that, just spending time with family as much as we can, especially as kids get older.

Louis Goodman 27:57
Let’s say you and your husband came into some real money, let’s say three or four billion dollars. Is there anything that you would do differently in your life?

Spojmie Nasiri 28:06
If I had that kind of money, I’m honest, to be honest with you. I would spend that money in two places. I would spend that money to feed all the children in Afghanistan. And then what’s going on in Palestine right now, those are the two places I would spend every penny.

Louis Goodman 28:21
Let’s say there was a magic wand. There was one thing in the world, the legal world, or otherwise that you could change. What would that be?

Spojmie Nasiri 28:27
That would be all the misery that’s going around the world right now, particularly with a woman in Afghanistan, where they’re not able to go to school. After age, after sixth grade, they’re just stuck literally in prison in their homes.

And I would take the magic wand and make some sort of peace in the Middle East so that we don’t have children and the horrific things that we are seeing going on right now, not only there, but Congo and other parts of the world. The children and the suffering that they’re going through and the innocent people.

Louis Goodman 28:59
We have a couple of other people on the call with us, and I’d like to bring them into the conversation, Jake Gannon. I’m hoping you could unmute. And do you have a question or a comment for, for Spojmie?

Jake 29:16
Yes, I do. Spojmie, I’m super excited to be able to talk to you today. I am a brand-new attorney and I’ve been following you and I’m glad I was able to come on. And my question is immigration. You mentioned that there are resources that you didn’t have when you initially started, I was wondering what those resources are and if you could recommend or point new attorneys into a direction that are kind of in the position that you were when you first started and decided you wanted to start your own firm?

Spojmie Nasiri 29:47
Thank you so much, Jake. Thank you for being here today. Are you thinking of immigration law or any general law practice?

Jake 29:55
I really want to do immigration law.

Spojmie Nasiri 29:57
Okay. I see, so the best thing would be is to join the AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association. They have a tremendous amount of tools for new lawyers.

You know, the membership is I’m not sure what the membership is, but if you’re able to afford the membership, I think that would be a wonderful source. They have mentors, they have classes and courses where you can join. I also am aware that I believe the Alameda County Bar Association has certain programs for new attorneys.

It may not necessarily be immigration, but how to set up a practice like, you know, the phone system to, you know, where do you get a print, like whatever it may be to actually physically set it up. I’ve had to, even now just learning everything, but I think that the AILA for immigration.

Louis Goodman 30:49
Jake, let me just ask you, are you a member of the Alameda County Bar Association?

Jake 30:54
I sure am.

Spojmie Nasiri 30:55
And Jake, sorry, if you, if you ever need anything in immigration related, always. So, you know, if you look me up, you can email me and then call me or email me. There’s nothing more gratifying for me than to help a new person and it and answering any questions you may have, I’m happy to, to mentor anybody who wants to do the practice of immigration law, whether it’s the actual law itself or the practice setting up the office.

Jake 31:23
Wow. That’s incredible. Thank you so much.

Louis Goodman 31:26
And I have a few more questions here, Spojmie, if I may. I’m wondering, is there somebody living or dead who you would like to meet?

Spojmie Nasiri 31:37
I would say Malcolm X.

Louis Goodman 31:39
Why is that?

Spojmie Nasiri 31:40
I think having read his book, the transition that he went from who he was to who he became was just extraordinary.

I’ve read his biographies, regardless of him converting to Islam. Just the transformation of a human being from who they were to who they ended up being is just, just very intriguing. I’ve had the honor of meeting a couple of his daughters. But he would be the one.

Louis Goodman 32:07
Is there a book that you would recommend, or could be a couple of books that you might recommend to people to read? Just books that you liked, it doesn’t need to be about the law. It doesn’t need to be about immigration. It could be just anything that you think somebody might like to read who listens to this podcast.

Spojmie Nasiri 32:30
The most recent one I’m listening to is just very intriguing is The Hundred Years War on Palestine and Israel, what’s going on.

I would say for anyone interested in, in, in listening to reading something is to, if whatever topic interests them is not to rely on social media, but more so go and read an actual book on that, on that subject.

Louis Goodman 32:55
Jake, go ahead.

Jake 32:56
Can I ask another question, Louis?

Louis Goodman 32:58

Jake 32:59
Okay, great. For Spojmie, prior to becoming an attorney and I just got sworn in in January of this year, but prior to that, I was a real estate agent and I did a lot of volunteer work and I’m just big in volunteering.

Now that I’m an attorney, I also try to volunteer my time and do citizenship classes and legal clinics to trying to help people. I’ve come to a crossroads now where I can’t just keep giving things away for free, my time for free, and I need to, I understand I need to start valuing, uh, my position as an attorney more.

So how do you get over it when, I mean that kind of, when do I charge people and how much do I charge them? Because I’ve been doing it just, you know, out of the kindness of my heart for so long. Now, I kind of have to try to get over that and I’m kind of struggling with it. What did you do?

Spojmie Nasiri 33:53
So when I, when I first started my law practice, I was volunteering at pretty much any and every nonprofit organization like Bay Area Legal Aid.

I did the Lawyers in the Library for the Alameda County Bar Association. I did the International Institute of the Bay Area. They had opportunities to volunteer there. And that’s how I slowly built clientele eventually. I’m sure, you know, my colleagues here on the podcast can also attest to it, but there’s nothing more important than having someone value your time.

And even though I’ve been practicing since 2011, only in the last three years, have I said consultation fee is a hundred dollars. There are attorneys that charge 150 to an immigration practice and other areas, it’s like 400, 600 dollars. But in immigration, what I say is it’s a hundred dollars for the consultation. And if you retain me within 30 days, I will credit that back to your case.

And I promise you that you will get the clients that you want. Those who say, well, I’m just going to go do it with someone else who does it for free. That’s fine. That’s not a client that you want. So it’s taken, it took me nine, 10 years to decide that now I have a hundred percent people showing up for their appointments.

And when they hire me, I credit that back to your case. And they value your time more. They value your information more when you charge them. So what, my advice going back, I think the mistake I made at those who’s asking earlier is I wish from day one, I had said the consultation fees, a hundred dollars or 150 dollars because that would have saved me so much headache, time and resources.

When you schedule five people and none of them show up and now you’ve wasted your time when you charge, they will show up for that appointment and you will keep them consistent.

Jake 35:47
Okay. Thank you for that.

Spojmie Nasiri 35:49

Louis Goodman 35:50
Spojmie, if someone wants to contact you, another attorney with a referral on an immigration matter, a question about an immigration matter, or someone who listened to this podcast and wants to contact you to set up some kind of an appointment regarding immigration issues, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Spojmie Nasiri 36:14
So it’d be the best way is just through the website, www.Nasirilaw, N A S I R I L A W dot com. And there’s an intake form and my phone number is on the website also there so they can contact us. I have staff and we answer the calls. So and if it’s a colleague, they can just say it’s a colleague and I’ll reach on the call back.

Louis Goodman 36:37
And my guess is that if someone were to Google Spojmie Nasiri attorney, that your name and your website would probably come up fairly quickly.

Spojmie Nasiri 36:49
Yes. Yeah. It comes up and they were able to contact me through that way also.

Louis Goodman 36:53
Spojmie, we’ve touched on a number of different topics. Is there anything that you wanted to discuss that we have not gotten to? Anything at all that you wanted to bring up?

Spojmie Nasiri 37:04
So I would just say, you know, it’s for new attorneys. I think, like I mentioned before, it’s very important to, to reach out and be able to get help. I think one of the things I wanted to share my own experience as a woman of color, it’s always been challenging to navigate the different system, whether it’s, you know, the practice of law itself, whether it’s opening an office or whether even being in court, there are some instances that can be really difficult.

And I think just standing your ground and being able to be humbled by your experiences and take pride in that and doing the work. I think it’s very important. The only other thing I would say is that, you know, as attorneys, we’re in a position to change lives, to make impactful. And I think that as busy as we are, it’s very important to give back to the community in some ways, whatever way that may be, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take a case.

You know, and being able to say no, when you are overloaded, I’m learning after all these years, how to say no. I think the last two years really emotionally burned me out. So I’ve learned to put barriers to saying thank you, but no, thank you. So when I get invited to go talk about these different events, I only committed to one, it’s raising money for orphans in Afghanistan, and so learning how to know your wellbeing and put aside because when you try to do too much. It just, at the end, burns you out to the point where you can’t function. And I truly believe I reached that point in the last six months and just trying to learn to appreciate myself and my boundaries, especially when we are so busy and we’re doing so much.

Louis Goodman 38:55
Spojmie Nasiri, thank you so much for joining us today at the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you.

Spojmie Nasiri 39:08
Thank you so much, Louis, for having me and thank you Valerie. It’s an honor to be here and share my stories and I hope that it motivates others and thank you Jake for being here. I’m always here to give wherever we can. I sincerely appreciate you having me today.

Louis Goodman 39:25
That’s it for today’s edition of Love Thy Lawyer in collaboration with the Alameda County Bar Association. Please visit the lovethylawyer.com website where you can find links to all of our episodes. Also, please visit the Alameda County Bar Association Website at ACBAnet.org, where you can find more information about our support of the legal profession, promoting excellence in the legal profession and facilitating equal access to justice.

Thanks to Joel Katz for music, Bryan Matheson for technical support, Paul Robert for social media and Tracy Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.

Spojmie Nasiri 40:15
Gosh, you put me on the spot there.

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