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Jennifer Oltarsh is One of New York’s Best Immigration and Civil Rights Attorneys

published October 14, 2013

By Follow Me on
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( 105 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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Professional Overview

Jennifer Oltarsh is One of New York’s Best Immigration and Civil Rights Attorneys
Jennifer Oltarsh is the founder of New York City's Oltarsh & Associates, P.C. For the past twenty years, she has built a national reputation as a litigator who specializes in immigration law, discrimination, and civil rights. Ms. Oltarsh is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association; New York County Lawyers Association (Member: Corporations Committee, 1998-2001; International Trade and Custom Law, 1997-1999; Immigration Committee, 1997 to 2001); and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Member, Immigration Committee, 2001 to 2004).

Over the years, she has been awarded with several distinctions, which include Cambridge and Strathmore's Who's Who. Ms. Oltarsh was also recognized by Global Who's Who in 2005. She co-authored Committee Report, Urging that the Proposed Rules; to Revise the Structure of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Not be Adopted; The Record; Summer 2002, Vol.57, No 3.

Ms. Oltarsh was admitted to the New York Bar in 1993. In 1995, she was admitted to the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. Ms. Oltarsh was also admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in 2004 and the U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd and 3rd Circuit in 2006.

She was born and raised in New York City. Ms. Oltarsh graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and earned her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. She speaks fluently in Italian and is conversant in Spanish.

When the fearless attorney isn't working, she enjoys painting. Although Ms. Oltarsh doesn't have a favorite sports team, she roots for her daughters' high school soccer teams. She is a frequent visitor of New York's Grammercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park, where her brother was a chef. When asked about her favorite book, Ms. Oltarsh replied, "I love The Count of Monte Cristo - but this is not a great book with respect to the law. The conviction and detention were illegal; everything was based on politics; and the protagonist seeks and ultimately obtains revenge. This is everything that is anathema to me on how real life should work - but it is an engaging story of perseverance."

Ms. Oltarsh's Memories and Motivations

Did Ms. Oltarsh receive any awards or participate in any internship that influenced her decision to go into the law? She acknowledged:
"I have been nominated for a number of Who's Who, including Strathmore's and Cambridge - but not prior to law school. I took several years off between college and law school. I worked for the District Attorney's Office in NYC under Morgenthau and my bureau chief was Margaret Clancy. This was the reason I went to law school - it was an unbelievably positive experience. All the attorneys were dedicated and Margaret was so smart and able - I was extremely lucky to be exposed to such positive aspects of the law and people working within it. Thereafter I lived for a while in Europe and had an internship in law there. That likewise was a truly positive experience because I was able to see a legal system diverse from the one I was previously exposed to and I was also exposed to ideas and manners of doing business that were approached in a different manner and diverse from the US."
Does she have a most memorable law school experience? Ms. Oltarsh noted:
"One of the truly great things about Brooklyn Law School is that it offers a huge range of internships. This attracted me to the school and I took advantage of these great opportunities. While I was in law school I had three internships: one with a judge, one with the US Attorneys' Office and one with the New York Stock Exchange. I would say that these experiences were, similar to my experience at the DA's Office, critical to shaping me as an attorney by exposing me to actual legal work which was both challenging and interesting. It confirmed my positive view of the law and those working within the field."
Why did Ms. Oltarsh decide to become an attorney? "In addition to my positive experience relating to law, I grew up in a household of intellectuals and my father was an attorney. At the dinner table we discussed all sorts of things, including contemporary issues, politics, literature as well as legal issues. I was drawn to the law because it can influence lives and change things for the better. I also like the intellectual challenge of it."

So what is the best part of her job? She stated:
"I enjoy all the people that I meet and their different backgrounds, experiences and insights. Being able to assist someone and positively affect their lives, which we do in the field of immigration law, such as work visas, permanent residence and waivers, and handling deportation cases is truly rewarding. I also enjoy the intellectualism of law, which I believe is the draw for many in the field. We enjoy representing people in court and winning their cases. That is never tiring."
What is Ms. Oltarsh known for professionally? "I hope that I am known for my skill as an attorney, and dedication to my clients; specifically my experience, reliability and results."

What area of the law is she most passionate about? "At the moment I am most passionate about immigration law and moving forward in a positive manner."

In regards to her strengths and one weakness, Ms. Oltarsh asserted:
"I believe that my strength is my ability to listen and be compassionate about my clients. My weakness is that in the immigration field I am hindered by the current state of the law. It is unbelievably frustrating to desire to help, but to be hindered by the law. I have been to Washington many times to attempt to influence and change the current state of the law - but it is not an easy process. I lose patience with the impasse and the lack of forward movement."
When asked what does she think about immigration law in New York today, Ms. Oltarsh replied:
"Immigration law is federal. The field is much different today than when I entered it. It was much more compassionate years ago and much less burdened by regulations and rules. For example, work-related visas and permanent residence adjudication have changed. For one, if there was a problem with an H-1B you could go to the local office and resolve the issue. It is much more difficult to deal with these issues at this time because of the remote locations, lack of access to individuals to speak to and the substantial increase in rules and regulations. In addition, there has been a sea-change in attitude. Previously applications were viewed in a much more favorable way, and at this time, within the business-related petitions, there is a more restrictive view about law interpretation that negatively affects applicants. I do not think that the more restrictive adjudication of petitions is helpful to the US economy."
Does she think immigration laws are stricter today because of 9/11? "A lot of these laws passed prior to 9/11, but they have been more stringent since then. There have been additional securities enforced since 9/11."

If she weren't a lawyer, what would Ms. Oltarsh probably be doing? "I would like to be more involved in not-for-profit work. That would afford me the same possibility of helping people - it would just be a different avenue than through the law. I also am intrigued by art restoration and art history, but would have to go back to school for that."

Where does she see herself in five years? "Hopefully with a bigger and more influential practice."

What motivates Ms. Oltarsh to be an attorney every day? "If one is lucky enough to find a career in an area that they love, it is very fortunate. I feel like that. I enjoy going to work. Although many things are routine, I always meet new people and do different things and face new challenges. I enjoy that."

How does she want to be remembered? "I hope to be remembered as a great attorney who has done fabulous work that was important and positively affected individuals and the field."

What Separates Oltarsh & Associates from Other Immigration Firms, Achieving Success on Difficult Cases and Co-authoring a Committee Report?

What separates Oltarsh & Associates from other immigration firms in New York City?
"I believe the high quality of our work combined with our dedication to our clients separates us from other firms. We spend a significant amount of time answering questions about the field, and I think it must be apparent that we are very knowledgeable about the field, a knowledge and experience that has been built over several generations."
Does she have a case that stands out? Why? Ms. Oltarsh claimed:
"I worked on a number of honor killing cases when the law was emerging. These are never easy cases, but when the asylum law was emerging you had to educate the courts about the issue and not just present the facts. We had some very hard-fought cases, but I believed that my clients would truly be hurt if sent home and we persevered on their behalf. We also worked on a case of an outstanding executive who had been denied and were able to gain residence for him. He proceeded to open a business that created a highly beneficial invention for the telecom industry and he is such a benefit to the US and this economy.

One time I worked to stop someone from being deported who was on the way to the airport. The government thought, mistakenly, that he had committed several crimes. I was pounding on the doors of Judges at the Court of Appeals when those Appellate Judges were not used, nor set up to issue emergency orders. Procedures have now changed so this type of action does not have to occur and certain rights are within the system."
Ms. Oltarsh co-authored Committee Report, Urging that the Proposed Rules; to Revise the Structure of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Not be Adopted. How was this experience? She said:
"I worked on a Committee which was very influential and I cannot understate how important such work is and what a positive experience it was. All the attorneys I worked with, as well as the Chair of the Committee, were among the most intelligent and savvy attorneys that I know. These people are not content to remain inactive in the face of negativity and are prepared to expend time and effort to move against that which is unjust. An activist lawyer who uses the law and his or her intelligence to affect change is important to improving lives. I hope to be involved in other such efforts."
Ms. Oltarsh's Mentor, Pro Bono Work, Non Profit Organizations and Her Vision for the Future

Does Ms. Oltarsh have a mentor? "My father is my legal mentor. He has always maintained a wide view of what the law can do and what is possible. He has used his substantial intellect to create avenues of possibilities when others thought none were available."

Does she handle pro bono work? Ms. Oltarsh admitted:
"I do pro bono work all the time. I had a case in which a man was held in immigration custody following two marijuana related cases. These arose following arrests and following - what seemed to me clearly illegal racial profiling. I had significant questions about the validity of the arrest and whether my client was even guilty. This case was in Texas and the Judge kept ruling against us, and we had to go on appeal a number of times. We eventually won, and his family, and him of course, were overjoyed. To have lost would have meant that he would have been deported and likely would not have been able to return."
Is there a non-profit organization or member that she admires? Ms. Oltarsh revealed:
"I have a good friend, Leigh Blake, who created Keep a Child Alive and recently started a new charity Arms Around the Child. Keep a Child Alive, as well as Arms Around the Child maintain orphanages in Africa and India for children who became parentless because of by AIDS, and often who have HIV or AIDS themselves. It provides a safe haven for them to live, food and life-saving drugs. It creates hope and a future for many children where none existed previously. "
What is her vision for the future? "I hope that this field becomes more humane and responsive to the many deserving people who the laws do not address in a worthwhile manner - there are significant changes that should be made in the business arena and the personal arena within immigration. There is a desperate need for reform within the immigration field. I hope to soon see those changes."

Here is a video of Ms. Oltarsh discussing adjustment interviews:

Find latest entry level immigration attorney jobs on LawCrossing.

published October 14, 2013

By Follow Me on
( 105 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.