Lynn Jacquez, Principal, CJ LakeLynn Jacquez, Principal
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 mandates have been subject to several changes over the years, where new rules and standards have come up, making it very stringent now. Be it mandates pertaining to the documentation, retention, or compliance, companies are thrown into a frenzy while adhering to them. To address these challenges, enterprises want a skilled partner that can assist them in understanding and navigating the legislative and regulatory requirements. One of the few firms that offer a combination of legal and government affairs talent to solve such problems is Washington, DC-based CJ Lake. The law firm provides immigration-related legal advice and talent to its clients, and on the other hand, they part take in public policy and government affairs advocacy.

In an interview with Manage HR, Lynnette R. Jacquez, Principal and Christopher Schulte, Senior Attorney at CJ Lake share their insights about their expertise around employment law and how they assist their clients in being compliant to the rapidly changing regulations. They also talk about their desire to form new affiliations in the near future.

Please give us a brief overview of CJ Lake.

Schulte: CJ Lake have been catering to their legislative and legal clients for over 25 years and are active from an immigration perspective in the public policy debate for legislative reforms and changes. We advise our employer's HR teams on compliance and other support activities to their business needs as it relates to a specific immigration or employee visa-related issues. We serve as general counselors for HR teams of various companies across verticals that range from the government sectors, non-profits to private enterprises.

Jacquez: CJ Lake's services are a combination of its legal work and advocacy efforts, which we are tending to be able to achieve complete compliance to the immigration laws for our clients. When businesses or individuals are affected due to compliances or policy changes, CJ Lake advocates for legislative reforms. Organizations try to operate within the confines of immigration laws and regulations, and we enable them to do so successfully.

How is CJ Lake positioned to help clients mitigate the challenges related to business immigration

Jacquez: As a law firm, our clients retain us as part of their legal services operation, to specifically address various issues on the legislative side because of our background in public policies in areas such as health, environmental, census, and federal services to name a few. Our team has worked in different positions of a congressional or administrative staff over the years with specific areas of legal expertise. We also represent national coalitions that are attempting to impact the policy debate and legislative reform in immigration laws. We are constantly taking the pulse of policy changes and are constants in public policy debates. Christopher has served as legal counsel to many national associations and provides help desk and legal services for employers that are trying to interact with different federal and state agencies that oversee the temporary worker visa programs.

We serve as general counselors for HR teams of various companies across verticals that range from the government sectors, non-profits to private enterprises

Schulte: In such roles, we can help employers get temporary workers in the right visa programs and provide educational service to clients on any changes in statutes or regulations that would affect them. The firm can provide best practice advice to communities and companies about ways to interact with people or their employees who have immigration-related issues. Once they are advised on the issue, we can then discuss ways to solve the problems and suggest ways to move forward.

For instance, for companies that experience a shortage of willing, qualified, and able domestic workers, CJ Lake counsels clients on federal employment-related visa programs, including the H-2A, H-2B, and H-1B programs. The firm helps clients comply with the often complex and stringent procedures involved in obtaining proper labor certifications and visa petition approvals through the Departments of Labor, Homeland Security, and State.

Would you talk about the strategy you use to understand your clients' needs and the steps you take to assist them?

Schulte: Teamwork is a critical aspect of the company, whether it is Lynn and I working together with a few government relations professionals or with a network of other people in an organization. We collaborate with them to find answers and to see if the issue about certain immigration compliance is reoccurring. What sets us apart is our approach while tackling the issue. Our primary initiative is reaching out to congressional offices, government entities to sit down and discuss the ways to solve a problem out of court, which is more efficient and cost-effective. However, if regulation needs to be modified to serve the needs of our clients better in a current case or future scenarios where it might affect more than one individual, we take the matter up to administrative or federal courts to reform them.

Could you please cite one or two case studies on how you have enabled clients to overcome hurdles and attain desired outcomes with your innovative array of solutions.

Jacquez: Based on our years of experience in representing individuals, businesses, and employers in the H-2A arena, the challenges of the existing regulatory structure were readily apparent. The H-2A temporary agricultural program allows agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. Nearly four to six years ago, while working on a specific case, we recognized that the regulatory structure implementing the temporary program needed to be modernized. We worked with the previous and current administration to modernize regulation and increase the recruitment of workers as well. This led to the proposal of a new regulatory structure, which also advocates reforms in legislation. The first piece of regulation has passed the house of representatives last December. This is one of many examples where CJ Lake has helped bring the policy and regulation changes.

What does the future look like for CJ Lake?

Schulte: We are continually evaluating and analyzing the best ways to serve our existing client base and then obviously how to expand. We are fortunate that particularly in the public policy space, we have several affiliations with other firms and individuals that give us added depth and added insight, especially on the policy for budget and appropriations. We're always looking for partnerships and affiliations that can serve our clients as well as individuals. We recently announced a few new affiliations at the beginning of this year and are excited about the opportunities that can present both for our growth. Additionally, we have an affiliation with a grant writing source because writing of federal grants, and applying for them is a large part of how entities get the funding available at the federal level. We have added that capacity to our service offerings as well through one of our affiliations.