Elnora Bassey joined CLINC’s Religious Immigration Services team in October 2018, four years to the month after she was sworn into the New Jersey State Bar. Growing up, Bassey always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. Following her dream led her to Delaware State University to complete her undergraduate degree and to Michigan for law school. Bassey is a second generation immigrant, with parents from Ghana, and she was born and raised in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Another fun fact–Bassey went to high school with Tim Howard, goalkeeper for the Colorado Rapids.
Here are a few other facts about our newest legal mind.
Tell us about a time when you were training to be an attorney, either as a law student or intern, when it clicked for you that immigration was the specialty you wanted to focus on?
I have always had a connection to immigration as my parents are immigrants from Ghana. I watched my mom go through the citizenship process and saw how arduous it was for her. I was a kid at the time, but I so appreciate what she had to go through. It made me want to lend a hand to those going through the process as they have every right to be here. Once I took an immigration law class in my second year of law school, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
Describe how you felt when you took your oath after passing the bar.
Relieved! The adivice that got me through was to study smarter and not harder. Also, law students know more than we think we know. At the time, coffee was my life line and my go to snacks were potato chips and ice cream.
Where did you work before joining CLINIC?
I was working for Legal Services of New Jersey as a staff attorney. I represented low-income communities as they disputed or resolved landlord/tenant, entitlement, social security and domestic violence issues.
What do you like most about working in religious immigration law?
The people, everyone has been very gracious during the learning process.
What do you wish other people had told you before you took the role?
To be patient with myself during the learning curve. It is not possible to learn everything at once.
What truth do you want people to understand about attorneys or the law field? What is a common misconception that you wish more people “got”?
We don’t know everything about every area of the law. The pressure to become and remain an attorney, should that be your aspiration, is already great. When potential clients, whether they be a stranger, a friend or family member, seeks our advice, they should come with the understanding that the attorney is not an expert in all areas of law, hence why many of us focus on one or a few different areas. The legal field is an expansive one.
If you could give any advice to an aspiring attorney, what would you tell them to encourage them not to give up?
The path is not straight. Don’t look to the left nor the right. Everyone’s journey is different.
What does being a good attorney look like to you, or what does it mean to be a good attorney?
Put forth your best effort. Do whatever you can to help your clients. They are truly relying on you and sometimes you are their last hope.
RIS is excited to welcome, Elnora and we look forward to the great work she will contribute to our department.