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EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE

Top 25 Attorneys 2017: Top Attorneys in Specialized Fields

By EB5 Investors Magazine Staff

EB5 Investors Magazine is pleased to announce the Top Attorneys in Specialized Fields, selected in an industry-wide vote. To be eligible, distinguished attorneys perform litigation and ancillary legal services related to the EB-5 program.

For more information, or to contact any of these attorneys, we invite you to view their listings at www.EB5Investors.com/directories.

Hunter Bates

Partner

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Hunter Bates is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and co-leader of the firm’s public law and policy practice. He has more than 20 years of law, policy and advocacy experience. Bates combines his knowledge of policy, process and key players to provide strategic advice and advocacy on behalf of a wide range of clients, including Fortune 100 companies, trade associations and nonprofit organizations. The Hill has repeatedly named him as one of the “Top Lobbyists.” Prior to joining Akin Gump, Bates served as legal counsel and chief of staff to current Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. In this role, he worked on a wide range of issues, including appropriations, agriculture, health care and tax. For the past two years, Bates has represented IIUSA, a trade association composed of EB-5 regional centers, in the halls of congress working to ensure that the EB-5 program is extended and ultimately reformed and reauthorized by congress.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

The EB-5 industry’s future is bright if congress achieves reforms and long-term reauthorization. Long-term reform should include a balanced approach to TEAs giving urban and rural areas a legitimate shot at competing for the program’s limited visas. A meaningful, workable differential and well-defined TEA criteria is key. Expanded visa capacity is also critical to ensuring viability for this economic development program. One way to expand visa capacity is to revive the program’s original intent by not counting immediate family members toward the overall limit. A reformed, reauthorized EB-5 program can help communities achieve much-needed growth in jobs, infrastructure and the local economy.

What trends are you seeing when it comes to EB-5 litigation?

There are three trends that I would point to. First, we continue to see the SEC pursue pure fraud actions against regional centers for Ponzi scheme-type activity. We also continue to see regulators go after lawyers for receiving transaction-based compensation. And lastly, we are now starting to see, for the first time, investor suits against regional centers and projects related to disclosures, or lack thereof, in offering documents.

Ira Kurzban

Partner

Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A

Ira Kurzban is a founding partner of the law firm of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli & Pratt P.A. in Miami. Kurzban has been involved in the EB-5 program since its inception. He was lead counsel in Chang v. U.S., one of the most significant decisions involving the EB-5 program. His firm litigates the majority of federal cases by EB-5 investors against USCIS. Kurzban also advises regional centers surrounding USCIS’ interpretation of immigrant investor laws. He has received numerous distinctions for his work and has been listed for over 30 years in the Best Lawyers In America. Kurzban is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Miami School of Law. He has published articles in the Harvard Law Review and Columbia University Press and authored Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook. He received his J.D. and master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley; and his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. He is a former AILA president and general counsel.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 Industry looks like?

I am primarily concerned with current legislative efforts to curtail the ability of investors, regional centers and NCEs/JCEs to sue in federal court when the actions of USCIS are clearly in error. Recent proposed legislation would either eliminate or substantially slow the ability to challenge USCIS misconduct in federal court. I regard this trend as contrary to the fundamental principles of our country because no person, high or low, is above the law and certainly no agency of the government may insulate itself from the harm it may do to investors and the general public.

What trends are you seeing when it comes to EB-5 litigation?

The EB-5 program, like all federal immigration programs, is now subject to the current administration’s policies that are attempting to grind immigration to a halt. I foresee that in the next several years EB-5 investors and regional centers will be litigating many arbitrary denials. In addition, many conditional residents will be put in removal proceedings. We have successfully countered that trend in a number of cases by seeking other forms of relief for the investors who are subject to removal.

Nelson Lee

Partner

Lee & Lee, P.S.

Nelson Lee, a partner in the Seattle-based Lee & Lee, P.S., leads the firm’s EB-5 team. He and his team have successfully submitted hundreds of EB-5 cases since 2010. Lee is a former senior deputy prosecutor with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office with more than 100 cases tried successfully before a jury during his 17-year career, including several complex, high-profile cases. Lee has been voted a “Top 40 Lawyer Under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association along with being recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine. He is a former pro tempore judge for the cities of Lake Forest Park and Federal Way, and he volunteers regularly at the International District Legal Clinic. He has also served as an adjunct professor in trial advocacy at the University of Washington and Seattle University. Lee has served as a board member and officer on many local organizations.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

With so many diverse bills to amend the EB-5 Program introduced in Congress over the last year, it is impossible to predict the program’s future. Unless competing interests between Congressional members and lobbyists can be reconciled through reasoned compromise, the ongoing deadlock seems destined for resolution by the Department of Homeland Security. Transparency measures to create broad-spectrum accountability and integrity for the protection of investors are long overdue. The increase in investment amount and the re-definition of TEAs to incentivize investments in more diverse areas of the United States are fair, so long as a corresponding fix is made to the devastating visa cut-off impacting mainland born Chinese investors.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I first learned about the EB-5 Program about 8 years ago when a client walked into my firm complaining he had been defrauded by an EB-5 developer. In attempting to help this client retrieve his hard-earned investment funds, I discovered situations similar to my client’s were not all that rare in the EB-5 industry. My instincts and training as a former prosecutor kicked in - and hence was born a concerted effort to empower and protect prospective EB-5 investors through awareness, education, and advocacy.

Dawn M. Lurie

Partner

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Dawn M. Lurie is a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, as well as co-chair of the EB-5 Investment practice and the Immigration Compliance Team. When advising clients, Lurie presents creative solutions and is known to identify issues long before they become problematic. Specialized in immigration compliance, her EB-5 practice includes a range of representation involving EB-5 foreign investment with a focus on best practices, compliance, litigation and targeted due diligence. Lurie counsels individual investors on immigration benefits and risks and advises project developers, issuers and regional centers on EB-5 structuring and finance matters. Lurie has practiced law for over 25 years and is based out of the firm’s Washington D.C. office. She educates her colleagues and clients on measures to enhance the integrity of the EB-5 program and its stakeholders. She co-chairs the Best Practices and Policy Committees for IIUSA and sits on the AILA EB-5 Committee.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

When filing my first EB-5 in 1993, I never imagined the industry would grow to where it is today. My Middle Eastern clients originally motivated me to become familiar with the program, and I then continued to dabble in EB-5 for the next 10 years. In 2010, I was fully drawn back in and quickly realized that EB-5 was missing a compliance component. I saw an opportunity to work closely with my securities partners on due diligence as the Securities and Exchange Commission gained an awareness of EB-5. By 2012, I had fully committed myself to raising awareness on best practices, disclosures, conflicts and transparency.

What trends are you seeing when it comes to EB-5 litigation?

I foresee new mandamus actions forcing the federal government to make decisions within reasonable time frames, along with challenges to unreasonable or inconsistent agency decisions. I also anticipate investor class action litigation’ civil suits between regional centers, projects, sponsors and developers and escrow agents. We will likely also see malpractice cases against attorneys providing poor or uneducated advice, and companion civil cases against attorneys with alleged conflicts and inadequate disclosures. Also, if redeployment of capital is mandated and then not outlined carefully, I foresee systematic failures affecting the program including litigation over failed secondary projects or loss of funds.

Angelo Paparelli

Partner

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Angelo Paparelli is co-chair of the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Specialty Team and a partner in the Business Immigration Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. A Certified Immigration Law Specialist, with a background in international business and tax law, Paparelli brings unique expertise to the EB-5 field. He is recognized as a Band 1 immigration attorney by Chambers, Legal 500, LawDragon, Best Lawyers, and the Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers. Paparelli also hosts a monthly EB-5 national teleconference for project developers and regional centers, and writes frequently in many business and legal publications. He co-edited Forming and Operating a Regional Center: A Guide for Developers and Business Innovators and The EB-5 Book 2014-2015 Edition.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

More job creation, geographically-dispersed economic development, and program integrity. The missing program element: Meaningful investor protections. Congress should empower an independent fiduciary for investors to continually monitor project activity and compliance, and alert investors if material changes to projects or deviations from the business plan have occurred. It should also give defrauded investors a variety of immigration “soft landings” such as reasonable alternatives to remain lawfully and, in deserving cases, to be employed. The choice need not only be to leave or face an immigration judge. Soft landings should be available to all investors, including those lacking funds for new or re-fortified investments.

What trends are you seeing when it comes to EB-5 litigation?

I foresee federal and state aggrieved-investor class action litigation and suits against federal agencies by individuals and entities challenging unlawfully promulgated regulations and improper agency practices and adjudications. I also see federal and state court suits between and among investors, regional centers, new commercial enterprises, job creating entities, developers, lenders, broker/dealers, insurance companies and agents and miscellaneous third parties, based on breach of contract, torts and statutory rights. Lastly, there are challenges involving license revocations and revocations of regional center designation, criminal prosecutions, receiverships in bankruptcy and civil forfeiture actions.

Laura Foote Reiff

Co-managing Shareholder

Greenberg Traurig LLP

Laura Foote Reiff is co-chair of Greenberg Traurig LLP’s business immigration and compliance group and a co-managing shareholder for the firm’s Northern Virginia office. She has been involved in EB-5 since the program’s inception in 1990. With roots as a business immigration attorney assisting with EB-5 direct investments, Foote Reiff is also leader of The EB-5 Immigration Coalition – a diverse organization of trade associations and businesses working to advance the EB-5 program. A multi-disciplinary international law firm, Greenberg Traurig is comprised of more than 2,000 attorneys practicing in 38 offices worldwide. Foote Reiff collaborates with the company’s dedicated EB-5 team, which includes professionals such as economists and securities attorneys, to assist both investors and developers across the full spectrum of EB-5 matters.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

I see some real changes on the horizon for the EB-5 program. We certainly need to see reforms that address visa relief, backlog reduction, processing times and integrity measures. We need reforms that will help keep truly viable projects in the pipeline while weeding out less stable projects and those bad actors that use the program improperly.

How are you involved in the EB-5 industry?

As a founding member of the EB-5 Immigration Coalition, I’m committed to reforming one of the most challenging aspects of EB-5: the program’s policy complexities. I find that the bureaucracy of interfacing with various agencies is frustrating and works against the EB-5 program’s underlying goal of creating U.S. jobs. Despite the intricacies of navigating EB-5 policy, working towards transparency in business immigration laws and regulations is one of the most rewarding components of my job. I have been involved with federal legislation for more than 15 years and my endeavors as a registered lobbyist for the coalition allow me to have a direct effect in promoting and supporting the continuation of the EB-5 program.

EB5Investors.com Staff

EB5Investors.com Staff

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