Chelsea Kirkpatrick is The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section’s inaugural Fellow. Chelsea was selected from a pool of exceedingly qualified lawyers. What made her stand out was why she wanted to be a Fellow. Chelsea was not an already experienced appellate lawyer or former clerk looking for an opportunity to interact and network with fellow appellate practitioners. Rather, Chelsea is an immigration attorney with the Sofia Law Firm. She and her boss started to recognize a shift in the nation’s immigration practice and realized that they needed appellate skills to assist their clients. Thus, Chelsea applied for the Fellowship hoping to gain valuable insight and experience for her clients. With the assistance of her APS mentor Sarah Lahlou-Amine, Chelsea has already put her Fellowship to good use by filing a Petition for Review of a removal order resulting in a negotiated remand in her client’s favor.
Why is immigration so important to Chelsea? Chelsea has wanted to be an immigration lawyer for as long as she can remember. Immigration has her heart because the practice is “all about helping good people who just want to better their lives.” Plus, it is very personal to Chelsea. Her 93-year-old grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. After surviving her time at Auschwitz, Chelsea’s grandmother was sent to Germany. She then came to the United States as a refugee. Eventually, she married Chelsea’s grandfather – a World War II Veteran. Rather than being bitter about her experience at Auschwitz, Chelsea’s grandmother used that experience to encourage her family to fiercely fight for human rights. Obviously, Chelsea heard her loud and clear!
After graduating from Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Chelsea attended the University of Florida where she majored in English and minored in Classical Studies. Of course, she was going to law school, so she looked for law schools with strong immigration programs. Chelsea was fortunate to earn a full ride to George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C. through a Presidential Merit Scholarship. While at George Washington she worked in two different clinics. The first was the Neighborhood Law & Policy Clinic where she was able to work on President Obama’s Clemency 2014 Project. As a side note, she ended up working with a clerk at the DC District Court who just happened to be Justice Ginsburg’s personal trainer. She also worked at the Immigration Law Clinic. Both experiences guided her to where she is today.
After graduating from law school, Chelsea returned to Florida to help her family with some medical issues. In December of 2016, she was fortunate to find The Sofia Law Firm where she has been practicing ever since. Chelsea’s boss Fairuze Sofia says Chelsea “is very diligent and thorough in her review of the cases and constantly pushes herself to look for novel interpretations of the statutes and case law. She cares a lot about the clients and always puts forth her best effort in everything that she does.”
The Appellate Practice Section is honored to have Chelsea Kirkpatrick as its first Fellow!