Q: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the legal field?
SJ: I was in fact very young when I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in Law. However, after college I had some doubts and took a year off before law school to work at various law firms and organizations to ensure that a career in the legal field was still what I wanted to pursue. My intention was solidified after working at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. I worked in their Special Victims Unit, assisting with trials involving domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Q: What is your own background and experience?
SJ: I am a first-generation immigrant, who moved to the United States when I was seven years old. My family went through the same immigration processes that many of my clients go through today. I grew up in New Jersey most of my life, where I attained a bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University and an associate degree in paralegal studies from the Fairleigh Dickenson University. I then moved to Atlanta, to complete Law School at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.
It was after my first year of law school when I took an elective class (Immigration Law). I seemed to enjoy this class more than any of the other classes I had taken thus far and genuinely connected with the material and content. At the end of the semester, my professor urged that I should pursue a career in Immigration Law because I seemed to “be a natural.” I took his advice and did an internship at an Immigration Law Firm that summer. After the first week at my internship, I knew that I wanted to be an Immigration Lawyer and assist families and companies move through the immigration process with the best legal representation possible – something that my family and I lacked when we ourselves were going through the process.
I felt at the time, there was a need for good and honest attorneys, who took the time out to talk to their clients, explain the processes to them and simply treat them like human beings rather than “just a file.”
Q: Can you share with our audience the type of cases you generally handle?
SJ: I specialize in all areas of immigration law, from family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, victim-based applications and all types of non-immigrant visas across all 50 US States. However, we also handle family law and business law cases in the state of Georgia.
Q: What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case?
SJ: My approach to any case, especially given the current changes in immigration laws, is always to try to understand my clients’ complex situations. I’m then able to break the technical matter down in a way that presents a firm legal argument that favors my client’s case but also in a way that an Officer that does not come from the same background or industry can easily understand the complicated nuances. Secondly, I think its very important to be able to think “outside of the box” when being able to deliver a winning strategy for a client.
Q: What was your first job? How did it shape or impact you?
SJ: My first job, when I was 14 years old, was as a Cashier at a local Dunkin Donuts. When I started, I use to work the 5am opening shift! This experience has been one of the most meaningful ones in my life. It taught me that 1) no job is too small or too big; 2) it taught me responsibility at a very young age and how to manage money; and 3) equally as important, at a very young age, it taught me the value of hard-earned money.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career as an Attorney?
SJ: I would tell them that you must work hard and have a passion for what you do. If you don’t love what you do, you will burn out very quickly. At the same time, law school is no joke, and neither is being an attorney. It requires hours of hard work and dedication, so prepare yourself ahead of time for that.
Q: How you manage your work life balance?
SJ: Ha-ha…What balance? Just kidding. As an attorney and especially a business owner, having a work life balance is extremely important. But that’s hard when you are so in love with your job sometimes. The important thing to keep in mind is that if you are not physically and mentally healthy – you are of no use to your clients and to your field. It’s important to take breaks and vacations and know when to call it a day. So that you can be refreshed and energetic enough to tackle and take on the next day. If you don’t maintain a healthy balance, again, you will burn out very quickly.
My team and my family are my backbone with this regard. Sometimes, even when I forget, they are wonderful enough to remind me that it’s time to call it a day or take a few days to just relax and recoup. Having a great support system is imperative.
Lastly, you need to have someone you can talk to. Being an attorney is difficult. So, whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, therapist or whoever you entrust – you need to be able to talk to the people around you and ask for help when you need it.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
SJ: The fear of saying no. When I was in law school and a new attorney, I found it extremely difficult to say no. To clients, to co-workers, to my boss. Through experiences and the wonderful mentors, I was lucky enough to have, I learned that it is OKAY to say no. You do not have to represent a client if you do not want to or are uncomfortable. If you have too much on your plate, its okay to say I cannot handle this at this time with my workload. Its okay to say I’m sorry I wish I could help you, but I really cannot.
I think that lesson by far has been paramount in my career.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
SJ: Work hard and believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Your support system can only get you so far. But your team, your clients, your organization will not have faith in your if you don’t believe in and have faith in yourself. You must love yourself the most. You must believe in yourself more than anyone else. You must be your biggest fan, critic and advocate.
It’s like the saying goes, a little out of context but nonetheless, “if you don’t love yourself, then why should others.” So be confident and believe in yourself so that your clients and others around you can have the same level of confidence in you.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
SJ: I feel that often times women still struggle to find their own voice and independence today. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and voicing it. All of the greatest and most successful attorneys have a voice and an opinion. Sometimes, we see women may shy away from having or even voicing their opinions in an industry that is still predominantly favoring the opposite gender. You may have to make more sacrifices than your male counterparts or colleagues, sometimes you have to work twice as hard. But don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t should not have a voice or the right to voice your thoughts, opinions and concerns.
Five Things About Shilpa Jadwani, Esq.
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
I would want to talk to Rosa Parks. She is an inspiration, one who stood up for what was right when neither colored people nor women had equal rights. I would want to gather inspiration and courage from her; where and how did she find the courage and her own inspiration to go and sit in the front of the bus that day … and then follow such a battle to fight for what was right and for equality. We women, and society as a whole, still face challenges of equality. What is stopping us from reaching for or fighting for that same equality that Ms. Parks had the courage to stand up for and fight against in the 50s. To me, she is an inspiration, a true hero.
2. What’s your favorite part of the day?
My favorite part of the day is the evening hours, specifically between 5:30-8pm. The working day for attorneys can be very busy and hectic running between court hearings and appointments with clients (or potential clients). Once the office closes in the evening, that is when I sit down and get the real nitty gritty paperwork done. I organize my notes and thoughts from the day; I document all of this. I call clients back and I get real legal work done.
As much as I love the administrative part and social part of being an attorney, what I really fell in love with was the law. So, when I get to sit down and get my legal writing and legal work done – I thoroughly enjoy it!
3. If you were a superhero, what would your special powers be?
If I was a superhero, I would want the ability to be in multiple places at one time. Sometimes, we find ourselves saying or thinking “I can’t be in all of these places at once!” But wouldn’t it be amazing if you actually could be in several places at the same time!
4. What app can’t you live without?
I will confess, my “mail” or “email” app is one that I absolutely cannot live without. Most of my communication for work is done via email or phone. Additionally, I think the ability to respond to a Client (or a potential client) in a timely manner is crucial. In the type of work that I do, a client can need you for an emergency at any time – and you must be accessible without being too accessible. My email is the first thing I read in the morning, and the last thing I read before I go to bed!
5. What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I am very passionate about dancing, specifically Bollywood dancing! I have been doing it since I was a teenager and have come to learn that in my busy, crazy, hectic schedule – it’s a blessing! It gives me the break that I need as well as the physical exercise that I need on a consistent basis, all in one! I believe, going back to the idea of having a work-life balance, that it is extremely important to have a hobby or passion outside of your work. It will absolutely keep you from going insane!