The Orlow Legacy
Abram and Lena Orlow
Abram Orlow was born in Potova, Ukraine in 1900. His family emigrated to the United States when he was very young, and he spend his early life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and married Lena Ginsburg, a fellow immigrant and University of Pennsylvania graduate.
In 1928, Abram and Lena became the founding partners of Orlow and Orlow, a dedicated immigration law practice, and the first of its kind, in Philadelphia. In their capacity as advocates for immigrants, Abram and Lena, developed a practice which served to protect the interests of fellow immigrants.
Abram served as just the second President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in 1948, an organization that he co-founded. Lena held the position of President of AILA in 1955, serving as the first female president in the history of the organization. Their achievements as pioneers in the field of immigration law were fundamental to offering protection to new Americans.
James Orlow, the son of Abram and Lena, continued the family tradition of advocacy begun by his parents. James was born and raised in Philadelphia, and he graduated with honors from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, with a bachelor degree in Economics. He went on to attend Harvard Law School where he found his voice as an advocate and legal practitioner. Following law school, he served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Navy and then the U.S. Naval Reserve. James began practicing immigration law exclusively in 1965, and he served as the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association from 1974-1975.
Although he practiced with a number of partners, James maintained the Orlow family immigration practice throughout his career. He, and his family, have provided immigration and citizenship legal services to individuals, corporations and their counsel since its original founding in 1928. The Orlow family has distinguished itself as a significant force in the legal community and the shaping of immigration law in the United States for nearly a century.
Even with a storied family legacy, James distinguished himself with a series of complex cases. He developed a specialized practice in immigration litigation—he regularly tried cases before the Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), U.S. District Courts, and the Circuit Courts of Appeal. James was involved with twelve precedential decisions from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and over sixty decisions from the Board of Immigration Appeals. Many of the clients he represented remain in the United States because of his polished advocacy.
The complexity of immigration law and precise language of immigration statutes often produced unfair results. These were the outcomes that James challenged in order to help his clients justly remain in the United States. He challenged the government on interpretation of these immigration statutes, the significance of criminal convictions in immigration court and judicial standards for review of asylum cases, among others.
For example, in Matter of Moreira, 17 I&N, Dec (BIA, 1979), James argued in support of a step-mother petitioning for immigration benefits for her step-son. In Moreira, the District Director of USCIS previously determined that a child did not qualify as a United States citizen petitioner's stepchild because the parents married only a few days before the child’s eighteenth birthday (marriage after the child turning eighteen would have rendered the child ineligible for immigration benefits through his step-mother). James argued that the quality of the relationship and the acceptance of the parental role was significant, as well as the relationship between parent and step-child in the period preceding the marriage. The precedential decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals found that when a step-parent demonstrated “parental concern for the support, instruction and welfare of the beneficiary [child]” they had the right to petition for their minor stepchild. The petition was approved and the child was granted status.
In a challenging asylum case, Balbayan v. Attorney General, 245 Fed. Appx. 56 (2d Cir. 2007), James argued on brief that the Immigration Judge who heard the case erred by finding that his client’s testimony in support of political asylum was “vague and speculative.” His precise documentation of testimony revealed that, in fact, his client gave detailed and reliable statements regarding his detention, the identity of the persecutors and his personal involvement with a political party. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and found the testimony credible leading to the removal order being reversed.
More recently, James’ advocacy addressed issues at the confluence of immigration and criminal law. His advocacy, and that of his partners, resulted in clarification of the immigration standard regarding a “crime of moral turpitude.” In Partyka v. Attorney General, 417 F.3d 408 (3rd Cir. 2005), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that the negligent infliction of bodily injury “lacks the culpability requirement” and may be committed “unintentional, unwitting, and…without contemplation of the risk of injury involved.” The court found that negligently assaulting a law enforcement officer, as James’ client had pleaded guilty to, was not a crime involving moral turpitude. With the ruling, James’ client became eligible to remain in the United States.
James contributed extensively to the breadth of immigration caselaw in the United States prior to his passing in 2018. His legacy, and that of his family, remains firmly entrenched in over a century of assisting immigrants.
The Orlow family legacy continues today as Dan Orlow, James’ son and Abram and Lena’s grandson, serves as Of Counsel for Green & Spiegel, LLC, a dedicated immigration law firm in Philadelphia.
Mr. Orlow joined the family practice at Orlow & Orlow in 2009 assisting with financial advisory and legal services. He continues his family legacy and represents four generations of Orlows as advocates for immigration and immigrant and asylee rights. He is now of counsel to Green and Spiegel, LLC. Mr. Orlow has bar admissions in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals, U.S. Supreme Court. He assists with cases involving immigration, human capital and other types of capital related to immigration. His interest in immigration is only limited to federal practice. In addition Dan has broad investment expertise including public, capital and digital markets, payments systems, special situations, sports gaming, and machine learning, He is currently a Founding Member of the RegTech Council and an Advisory Board Member of the Hoyos Group. He began his career as a payments economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where he worked in the Markets Group. Education: Wesleyan University, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University.