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Mithras Law Group Attorney, Hanishi T. Ali, Featured in Indus Business Journal

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Our Attorney, Hanishi T. Ali, was featured in the August 2009 Indus Business Journal.  The article is reproduced below or click here.

Diverse background drives immigration law firm

Head Ali brings foreign work, education to her law business

By Martin Desmarais


WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Attorney Hanishi Ali grew up in one country, went to school in two others and worked in several more. With such diverse exposure to different cultures it only makes sense that her law firm the Mithras Law Group has found success in immigration law and international business law.

“I have lived in five different countries and I feel like I understand the language culture and knowledge of cross-border transactions,” said Ali. “I feel that helps me on the professional front: to be able to bring that diversity I have to my clients.”

Started by Ali in 2007, the Westborough-based Mithras Law Group counts its bread-and-butter as helping companies hire foreign nationals to the United States. The firm also helps foreign companies doing business in the United States with strategic planning for establishing a U.S. office and securing the appropriate immigration papers for its key personnel. The firm offers similar services for business looking to enter into India or the United Kingdom. Overall, its legal services span business immigration, family-based immigration, naturalization and international business transactions. According to Ali, approximately 65 percent of the firm’s work is corporate with the remainder being family or individual immigration.

“A lot of our work comes from word of mouth and referrals,” Ali said. “A lot of our clients are happy with our service and they will refer clients to us.”

In addition to its U.S. office, Mithras Law Group has partners in both India and the United States. The company has an office in Mumbai, led by attorneys Nipun Thanawalla and Bharti Desai, and a U.K.-based partner, Mariangela Suyal who handles European business.

“I felt like, as my practice was growing fast, I needed partners in other countries,” Ali said. “As we grow to other markets, we will add partners there.”

Ali has over 10 years of legal experience and is a qualified attorney in the United States, England and Scotland. She grew up in Mumbai before moving to the United States in the 1980s. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in the late 1980s with a dual bachelor’s degree in economics management and journalism. She then studied law in Scotland, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Edinburgh in 1995. She followed that up with a post-graduate law degree from the school in 1996.

Her first work in the legal industry came at top United Kingdom law firms Steedman Ramage WS and Brodies LLP. She also worked in house at Lexis-Nexis in Boston after moving back to the United States in 2000. In addition, Ali has taught taxation and social security law to law students at the University of Edinburgh and represented the International Commission of Jurists at the United Nations in Geneva.

She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, the Law Society of Scotland, the Law Society of England and Wales, and the International Bar Association.

When it came time to start her own firm, Ali said that immigration and international business law drew her. “I have always sort of been involved in those two areas,” she said. “My interest was always in the international business aspect.”

With the continued globalization of business, Ali sees no better time to be a law firm that helps companies operate with many foreign workers and locations. “As we get more globally competitive we see the migration of employees from one country to another becoming very common,” she said.

Still, the initial revelation that the United States is under the 65,000 H-1B Visa cap for the first time in many years concerns Ali. “At least based on the last several years it is really unheard of,” she said. “In the past years, the applications have been double what was available.”

“It is definitely signs of an economic downfall,” she added. “It is not good in terms of being globally competitive.”

According to Ali, her firm still did about the same amount of H-1B work and she does expect the H-1B cap to be hit, but believes it will take several months.

“There are so many angry people out there who do feel their jobs are being taken by these H-1B workers,” she said. “But there are so many studies out there that show that is just not the case.”

Ali is also encouraged by the early days of President Barack Obama’s administration and its immigration efforts. “The immigration policy has shifted to the better compared to the Bush administration,” she said and expressed hope that President Obama would tackle immigration reform this year, as promised.

Just two years into her time at the helm of her own firm, Ali is satisfied with how things have played out so far. “While many lawyers may live out long, successful careers with large firms or with someone else’s practice, heading her own practice felt like a natural evolution, according to Ali. “I felt like I had got enough experience working in house at law firms,” she said. “I felt I was ready to start my own practice.”

She pointed out that she comes from a family of professionals, many of whom have their own businesses, so the move was easy to make and have support in doing so. Ali also stresses that she enjoys being her own boss, as well as being able to give “more individualized attention to my clients.” She also relishes the ability to control her working hours to some extent and leave time for volunteer effort with groups such as RESPOND, a domestic violence support organization, and the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership.

“Overall I am happy with my decision to start my own firm and I think my clients like the firm and like to work with us,” Ali said.

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Written by MithrasLaw

August 25, 2009 at 2:09 am

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