2020 Legal Elite — Immigration Law Profile
Christine Lockhart Poarch, Poarch Thompson Law, Salem
Title: Managing attorney
Other legal specialties: Adoption
Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of St. Thomas; law degree, South Texas College of Law
Spouse: Joey Poarch
Children: Zella, 15; Sidney, 13; and Bella Luz, 12
First job as a lawyer: Perdue & Clore, medical malpractice firm in Houston
Fan of: Creative nonfiction, fried green tomatoes, folk rock
Recently read book: “The Book of Longings,” by Sue Monk Kidd
Favorite vacation spot: Prague
Career mentors: Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director, ACLU of Virginia; Betty Stevens, of counsel with Poarch Thompson Law; Denice Smith, appellate lawyer in Houston that I clerked for; Mark Clore, an accomplished civil litigator and my first boss.
What led to your decision to form your own firm focused on immigration law?
I began working with the immigrant community in Houston when I was an undergraduate and continued that work after being licensed as a volunteer attorney with Justice for Our Neighbors, a pro bono law clinic and Methodist ministry. I launched my private immigration practice after returning to my hometown for good in 2003. Because of our work on international adoption, our practice later expanded to domestic adoption as well.
How have immigration court backlogs affected your clients?
The backlogs have had a significant impact on our access to justice for our clients. The immigration court backlog — which has only increased because of COVID — embodies the concept of “justice delayed is justice denied.” Immigration court reform — specifically, creating a politically independent Article I court — is critical to fostering judicial independence in immigration proceedings and reducing the backlog of cases.
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