Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez is the co-founder of Saenz-Rodriguez & Associates in Dallas, Texas. Now in her 30th year of practice, Michelle is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of Texas. She started as a Judicial Law Clerk under the Attorney General’s Honor Program at EOIR for 7 Immigration Judges in Harlingen, Texas. She began her immigration practice shortly thereafter and has remained a passionate advocate for immigrants from around the world.
Michelle is former Chair for the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is an Elected Director for the AILA Board of Governors and has served in that capacity for 5 years. She is also a member of IMMLAW which is a top tier group of immigration lawyers nationwide. Saenz-Rodriguez & Associates has been named one of the “Top Tier Immigration Law Firms in America” for over two decades. Michelle has recently been awarded the 2020 W Page Keeton Award for Excellence in Continuing Legal Education from the University of Texas Law School. She is an Adjunct Law Professor at SMU School of Law in Dallas, Texas. She previously served on the AILA EOIR National Liaison Committee and presently serves as the EOIR Liaison in Dallas, Texas.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: We are a small boutique Immigration law firm in Dallas, Texas. We handle complex immigration cases from all over the globe. We do everything from family based immigration cases to complex deportation litigation. Since our work is handled in federal jurisdictions, we practice all over the United States.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: We learned a lot about our ability to function as a company and adjust to the new way of running a business during the pandemic. Fortunately for the nature of our work, we were able to transition to remote work pretty easily and still serve our clients. The Immigration Courts still remained operational for most of the pandemic and all of our cases where clients were detained continued to move forward. Our non-detained cases did come to a halt for almost a complete year and have transitioned to a mostly virtual format.
The Consulates worldwide were completely shutdown and the travel restrictions required us to have to get creative and look for other ways to create revenue streams to make up for our normal global markets which were non existent during the pandemic. We have learned to become more efficient with less overhead and we are constantly looking for new ways to brings services to our clients.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: I think the best advice that I can give to any business is to be flexible. Our motto for the 25 years had been adapt and execute, it’s not always going to go exactly as planned and you just have to adapt to the changes and find a way to make it work for your business.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: Most offices have now gone to remote operation and even our court system is now converting to a virtual format. We are learning to adapt to the new format and preparing our clients to do the same.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: I wish I would have been better about trusting my own ability deal with the transition into the virtual office environment. I was afraid of technology because of my lack of exposure, but once I tried it, I was able to utilize the tools without too many issues.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: I think that online business will continue to grow into the decade and businesses will have to find ways to meet the demand for goods and services in the online world.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: 8-10
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: I work in the immigration law space. As an immigration lawyer, my job is to tell the stories of the people I represent every single day. The work that we do in our office will impact lives on a monumental scale. It is important that each person on our team understand what role they play in making that happen for the people that we serve. When our team know the underlying story and what is at stake in our cases, they become stakeholders in the work that we do and the effort rises to a level of personal importance. When the client wins, we all win and that win is celebrated by the entire team because it takes everyone to make it happen. As the lawyer, I am the one in the courtroom, but all the ground work is done by the team way before I ever set foot in that courthouse.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: Maintaining a steady stream of business is always the real challenge for our business. We have a lot of business at the moment, but there are times when the cases are slow to come in and there is a lull in business. We need a way to have a more steady, predictable revenue pattern.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: I am always looking for more efficient ways to run my business. I want to be able to keep up with the latest trends and keep up with what others in our industry our doing for their clients.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: Company culture has always been an important part of our business model. I think employers have to be open to new ways of dealing with employees and have flexibility in the workplace.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: The ability to create and inspire others. Waking up everyday with the goal of being successful and creating something that will make a positive impact. It could be as easy as making one person smile or being kind to a stranger.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez: Success means striking the perfect balance between being a business owner, parent, spouse and humanitarian. I feel like I am always trying to do it all, but I just can’t make it all happen. I love my work and the impact that my work has in people’s lives, at the same time, there is nothing more important to me than my family. I am also active in my community and spend a lot of time mentoring young Latina women. Success would be being able to do it all and do it well!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez or her company, you can do it through her – Instagram
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