Canadian Lawyer

October 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 43 of 59

42 FEATURE TOP 10 IMMIGRATION BOUTIQUES area ranging from "the CFO from a European company sitting next to a family of refu- gees from Yemen, who is sitting across from someone from another country who just got engaged to their same-sex partner in Canada." While there may not be as many office visits these days because of the pandemic, those unique stories of people wanting to come to Canada remain, Sandaluk says, and make immigration law "without a doubt one of the best areas of law to be in." "You realize that, as a lawyer, you get to play a small role in a person's journey to Canada, and that can be incredibly humbling." He adds that another gratifying aspect of his practice is watching clients come back, whether it is to sponsor a spouse, seek citizenship or just to tell him how they are doing. "It makes the job so gratifying." One of the largest immigration law prac- tices in Canada, Mamann Sandaluk & Kingwell represents clients in all types of immigration, citizenship and refugee protec- tion matters, including U.S. immigration. Recently, the firm expanded to provide civil litigation services with the goal of assisting clients seeking civil remedies in how they were treated by immigration authorities. One example of a case the firm has been involved in is the wrongful detention case of Olajide Ogunye, a Canadian citizen who was detained for eight months by immigration authori- ties. The firm now has about 40 employees, including 14 lawyers. The pandemic has certainly slowed busi- ness overall, Sandaluk says, with fewer inter- company transfer and work permit applica- tions affecting the corporate side, as well as closed government and court offices slowing down the refugee and personal immigration process. There may be an uptick in work related to the border closure, with people seeking exemptions or trying to get a spouse over, he says, but that work doesn't come "remotely close" to replacing the work that had been going on before. As well, many of the cases that the firm can do are becoming more complicated by the pandemic, whether it is longer waiting times or even talking to a client about their case when the meeting can't be done in person. "Technology is better than [at] any time in the past for allowing things like remote work, but in a lot of respects, there is really no substitution for sitting across the table from somebody to discuss their case and devel- oping a plan." And even when he can meet a client in person, communicating through a mask can be challenging. When starting a lawyer-client relationship, Sandaluk says, it's important to establish a connection with clients and break through any language barrier there might be. "I've gotten really good over the past 20 years of understanding someone whose first language

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