Silicon Valley is known for being at the forefront of technological innovation and entrepreneurship. However, with new businesses come new challenges, particularly in the realm of legal issues. Located in Palo Alto, known as the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley,” Bay Immigration Law represents multiple startups and individual entrepreneurs searching for creative immigration solutions to meet their short- and long-term business goals. From its humble beginnings in a small office space to its rise as a leading legal resource for tech companies, the story of Bay Immigration Law has all elements of a quintessential Silicon Valle startup saga.
Yana Albrecht, Managing Partner of Bay Immigration Law, shares, “The classic story of a Silicon Valley startup involves opening up a business in your parent’s garage with some University friends. Bay Immigration Law’s story began when I was at a little later stage in my life – I already had children of my own that I needed to take care of – but establishing Bay Immigration Law had a similar “Silicon Valley” feel.” In the early days, Ms. Albrecht’s office for herself, another attorney, and a paralegal was her dining room table. She would also spend hours in a storied coffeehouse up the street from Stanford, where she would meet with clients and hammer away on work with her laptop, phone, and occasional caffeinated breaks.
Founded in 2010, Bay Immigration Law is still small enough to be considered a boutique law firm. However, its competitive edge lies in its commitment to technology, especially in the software and information technology sector. “Having our headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley means that the majority of our clients are in the technology space, in fields characterized by innovation, blazingly fast transformations, and imaginations fired with the conviction that they actually can do something to solve a major problem or improve conditions in the world today,” says Ms. Albrecht. The key benefit to working with Bay Immigration Law is expert legal advice in a collaborative setting. Ms. Albrecht and her team constantly listen to the clients, create the right strategy to succeed in their individual cases and help them plan the future.
Bay Immigration’s attorneys and personnel are now located throughout the United States, including New York, Florida, and Illinois. The law firm also works in Canada and the UK. “We periodically travel to other countries as well so that our clients feel comfortable talking with us and get our assurance, up close and in person, that our firm is zealously advocating for their interests,” pinpoints Ms. Albrecht.
An Immigrant Solving Immigrants’ Issues
Ms. Albrecht is a highly accomplished immigration attorney who has made a name for herself in Silicon Valley. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA. She later pursued an International and Comparative Law LLM program at McGill University Law School in Montreal, Canada, where she specialized in International and Immigration Law. “My ancestral roots lie in Ukraine, a country that is much in the news these days for the wrong reasons. A country rich in history, there is a Ukrainian proverb that translates roughly into “borrowed bread lies heavy on the stomach,” which means that what you accomplish yourself gives you much greater satisfaction in life,” shares Ms. Albrecht.
Began the practice of law in a fairly traditional way, Ms. Albrecht is now recognized for her exceptional legal expertise and dedication to her clients. She worked her way up in law firms as an associate before becoming a supervisory attorney. In her last job, Ms. Albrecht was in a law firm run by a highly knowledgeable attorney, to whom she remains deeply grateful. However, for Ms. Albrecht, it always felt like that proverbial borrowed bread. She says, “I was thrilled with my decision to open my own law firm, Bay Immigration Law. Initially opened as a boutique firm, the San Francisco Bay area has proven to be attractive for founders of companies and innovators worldwide. I identify closely with immigrants since they are eager to accomplish much in their lives if given a chance to do so within our complicated immigration system.” As a managing partner at Bay Immigration Law, Ms. Albrecht focuses on employment-based visas, immigration, and investor visas for technology companies and startups.
As an immigrant to the United States, Ms. Albrecht perfectly understands the immigrants’ issues. In fact, the problems she faced in the immigration process prompted her first interest in the area – the first case she ever filed with the government was her own adjustment of status petition! “During my time in law school, I worked in an immigration justice clinic run by a highly-respected Law Professor. Working directly with asylum seekers and refugees cemented my foundations in the field, even though later, by moving to Silicon Valley, that meant a shift to work mainly with employment-based immigration matters. I love the energy of people seeking a better life for the world, themselves, and their families,” shares Ms. Albrecht.
The Client First Approach to Success
Taking care of clients is Ms. Albrecht’s first priority. Therefore, the biggest challenge for her has been managing Bay Immigration’s growth so that each client continues to get the personal attention they deserve on their case, whether from an attorney, paralegal, or other support personnel. She says, “It is not easy for clients to get comfortable with other people when dealing with an issue that can dramatically affect their lives. It’s like getting surgery: of course, you want to hear everything from the surgeon, even if there will be other highly-trained specialists.” Ms. Albrecht is also a member of various relevant organizations, including the American Immigration Law Association, the British Chamber of Commerce, and the French Chamber of Commerce. Her hard work and dedication have earned her distinction as a leading immigration attorney in Silicon Valley.
With a friendly and customer-focused team, Bay Immigration could thrive evening during the pandemic when most businesses around the globe struggled to survive. Ms. Albrecht recounts, “Who would have thought that recounting “the last few years” would include a global lockdown? Although the COVID pandemic created challenges for everyone, we went into it with the mindset that it would be an opportunity for us to be more imaginative, more attentive to unexpected situations, and more attuned to our own growth.”
Bay Immigration has grown as a company, adding new attorneys, paralegals, and other support staff, allowing them to communicate even better with their clients and diversify their services. “For example, though historically most of our clients are founders of startups, persons of extraordinary abilities, or skilled as managers, obviously, they have spouses, children, and other family members that they care about. So, one of the ways we’ve consciously decided to manage our growth is by expanding our services so that we can even better address the issues of family-based immigration,” shares Ms. Albrecht.
Working with small to large businesses across all industry sectors, Bay Immigration has developed an excellent reputation for being highly accessible to its clients and for finding creative solutions where other law firms may fail to see one. Ms. Albrecht claims, “We are fully hands-on and ready to take over the entire immigration strategy and execution process so that our clients can focus on their business or their families without worrying about optimal immigration strategies and the immigration statuses of their critical employees.”
From Former USSR to the Present-Day US: A Journey to Remember
Ms. Albrecht spent her childhood in the former Soviet Union. Her high school years coincided with the policies of “perestroika,” intended by Chairman Gorbachev to try to save the USSR from falling apart, but which allowed everything that had been fixed as ideological beliefs in the Soviet era to be questioned and the truth to finally be revealed. She traveled a lot in Ukraine and around the USSR and has good memories of visiting Crimea to see Greek archeological ruins. Ms. Albrecht’s first visit to the US was on a Gorbachev Scholarship as a university student majoring in archeology. She then joined law school and worked on the Transnational Law Review, where she developed her passion for sound legal analysis. Ms. Albrecht began studies of comparative law for an LLM at Magill University in Canada, where her favorite subject was arbitration in international law.
“If there’s a common thread to weave from this background, I could say that I developed as a leader with a sense of the deep history that informs our present, recognition of the eternal need for truth, and appreciation that we can successfully venture to solve problems using alternative methods,” shares Ms. Albrecht. Moving to Palo Alto, California, to open her law practice is the most significant professional milestone in Ms. Albrecht’s life. In fact, it was the right time and the right place to be as the new golden age of technology bloomed. “That move allowed me to meet amazing people, some of whom became clients, and many of those clients also became friends,” pinpoints Ms. Albrecht.
In the tech space, entrepreneurs start and fail continuously. Some start all over again, while others go on to lead wildly successful companies. Ms. Albrecht says, “Many books have been written about the drama and history of Silicon Valley. If I have any regret, it is that attorney-client confidentiality means I am not likely to write my own book about some of my amazing clients and friends.” Ms. Albrecht has admired Margaret Thatcher and loved one of her quotes: To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best. She adds, “In my experience, people hold that a woman’s strength is in her emotions, but in business, that can be counter-productive. Business decisions are often best when made rationally, after giving emotions the time to subside.”
A Typical Working Day
“A typical day for me involves a lot of communication,” says Ms. Albrecht. Bay Immigration has numerous clients worldwide, which translates into numerous phone calls and video conferences: educating clients about immigration laws, regulations, and practices and finding ways to solve their problems. She adds, “Of course, we have a highly talented pool of colleagues in our firm, so part of my daily communication also turns inward to advise my colleagues or poll our internal experts on their own experiences and thoughts on urgent or urgent or complicated issues.” Ms. Albrecht’s team at Bay Immigration is very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise and stays current on immigration rules, allowing her to give clients the highest quality of legal services. “I try to maximize my time, so I try never to eat lunch alone – it is a great time to connect informally with clients as well as with my own family,” shares Ms. Albrecht.
Ms. Albrecht also finds some time to spend on the business side of the law practice, to hone the company’s vision for legal practice, to take care of the occasional issues that arise from having a firm that operates under many different jurisdictions, and to plan how they can improve Bay Immigration’s specialized capabilities to help its clients succeed. Outside work, Ms. Albrecht finds time to swim and do extreme sports activities. Ms. Albrecht says, “When I’ve gone kite surfing in Brazil, I’ve met a lot of founders and entrepreneurs who later became clients. In the olden days, I guess the path to success was on the golf course. These days, entrepreneurs seem to like to take greater risks than deciding which drink to order at the 19th hole.” Ms. Albrecht thinks that mentioning kite-surfing often sparks a keen interest in California’s society since it leads kindred spirits to topics and opens up about enthusiasms that one might not otherwise think to touch upon in business networking events.
Today, Ms. Albrecht’s main focus is to grow her business in a way that accords with her ethos and creates even better value for Bay Immigration’s clients. “One exciting project is to expand our work on global immigration services to include the EU countries, the UK, and the Caribbean. Our clients have an increasingly global outlook, so we do too,” concludes Ms. Albrecht.
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