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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Committed to Diversity: Julie Pearl '87 and Christy Nguyen '00, Leveraging Intellectual Capital

When the attorneys at Pearl Law Group get behind an employer’s bid to hire exceptional foreign talent, CEO and founder Julie Pearl ’87 expects fast-tracked results. Instead of waiting in long lines and enduring complicated procedures, the firm makes a case for how the individual’s talents establish him or her as an “extraordinary ability alien.”

“We’re essentially leveraging intellectual capital,” Pearl says. The firm represents some of the Bay Area’s most successful companies, helping them to attract, hire and retain highly educated foreign employees.

The granddaughter of four Eastern European immigrants, Pearl founded her firm in 1995, and it has grown steadily to 42 employees, with offices in San Francisco, London, and Shanghai. In 2006, Pearl hired two partners, Christy Nguyen ’00 and Sameer Khedekar, whose wife, Rupa Bhandari, is UC Hastings’ Director of Student Services. This year, Pearl Law Group was named Immigration Provider of the Year: Americas by representatives of top corporations that served as judges for the Forum for Expatriate Management.

Like Pearl. Both Nguyen and Khedekar have a personal connection to immigration. Nguyen’s parents were refugees from Vietnam in the 1970s. Khedekar, who was born in India, maintained a green card for more than 30 years, often “waiting in line in the dark and the cold” to get his turn with an immigration officer.

For Nguyen and Pearl, UC Hastings provided critical training and practical skills, which deepened their interest in immigration law. Although Pearl also took classes at other law schools –Harvard, Tufts,and Boalt—she says she would be less effective practicing at, let along running, a large firm had she hearned her degree elsewhere. “None of the other schools I went to would have prepared me as well as UC Hastings did,” she says.

All three attorneys say they achieve their greatest satisfaction when they can help a company secure the best talent possible to get an innovative workforce in place—or when they successfully resolve one person’s dilemma. “We’re helping someone every day,” says Nguyen. “It could be a professor or a CEO, or a scientist who is trying to find a cure for cancer.”

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