Starting out as an attorney, Allison Yum JD'13 had the opportunity to work on cases related to one of the most pivotal recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court: overturning the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.
One of Yum's first cases at an immigration law firm in Burlington involved a married same-sex couple with a U.S. citizen and a noncitizen spouse. Under federal law, the noncitizen spouse had been ineligible for immigration benefits because the federal government hadn't recognized his marriage. In order to be with his spouse, he had been living in the U.S. for years without status.
Yum's firm helped him obtain a green card and also filed marriage-based petitions for other U.S. citizens with noncitizen same-sex spouses.
"Being part of this moment in history was meaningful because we were able to bring immigration relief to many individuals for whom there was previously no relief," Yum says.
The mother of an infant, Yum is taking time off but plans to continue to practice immigration law.
In her practice, she managed employment- and family-based cases and other cases. She filed petitions for corporate clients to bring employees to the U.S. and worked with people who were petitioning for family members to obtain lawful permanent residence.
Working closely with clients was the most rewarding part for Yum, who also earned a VLS International Law certificate in 2013.
"While it can be easy to become consumed by paperwork and deadlines and not make time for clients, I particularly enjoyed working directly with our clients and meeting with them face-to-face," she says. "This client contact helped reduce stress related to the immigration process and resulted in clients having a more positive and human experience."
At Vermont Law School, Assistant Professor Arthur Edersheim's immigration law course and Yum's work with him on immigration cases at the South Royalton Legal Clinic gave her a solid foundation.
Her VLS connections also have been helpful.
"I have maintained a relationship with several professors, who have willingly provided support and advice regarding the field of immigration, my employment search, and ethics and professionalism," Yum says. "Their support and advice have been invaluable to me as a new attorney."