NILA’s Co-Counseling Program

NILA takes a hands-on approach to training and mentoring immigration attorneys seeking to improve their federal litigation capacity. We believe in learning by doing and that attorneys are stronger together. Furthermore, we understand that federal court can be daunting for attorneys who are new to federal court as well as for seasoned attorneys who are filing a new type of federal court case. 

NILA’s co-counseling program allows existing immigration counsel to learn or improve litigation skills while having legal expertise and support to present the strongest case possible. Cases in the program are governed by an agreement that dictates, among other issues, the responsibilities and tasks of each counsel, work product deadlines, and fee recovery. In general, NILA serves as lead counsel for cases in the program.

NILA accepts cases into the co-counsel program on a case-by-case basis depending on capacity and expertise. Preference is given to NILA members. Cases in the program include: petitions for review ; damages claims; district court actions challenging agency delays or decisions; habeas corpus petitions; Freedom of Information Act lawsuits; and motions to recover attorneys’ fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act. 

Attorneys interested in co-counseling with NILA will be asked to:

  1. Articulate why they will benefit professionally or personally from having NILA as co-counsel;
  2. Obtain client consent to NILA serving as a co-counsel in the case;
  3. Be willing to seek recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs and/or share a portion of an existing retainer fee (if any);
  4. Abide by the terms of a mutually-agreed upon co-counsel agreement; and
  5. Agree to complete a short evaluation of the program.

How to Apply:

Send an email to Trina Realmuto ( and/or Mary Kenney ( providing: 

  1. A brief description of the nature of the case, legal issues, and relevant decision/briefing; and
  2. Information about any impending deportation or case-related deadlines.                                                                                                                                                       Attorneys can expect to receive a response from NILA within 2-4 business days.


  • The Florence Project could not be more delighted to be working with NILA. They have been the catalyst that turned us from immigration court practitioners into district court litigators. They’ve given us new tools to use for our clients’ benefit and have supported us at each step of the way. We are so grateful for their professionalism, dedication, and good humor.  – Laura Belous and Rocío Castañeda Acosta, Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, Tuscon, AZ

  • “NILA is the best! Trina, Mary, and Kristin are extremely knowledgeable, super helpful, and an absolute pleasure to work with. Regardless of your level of expertise in federal litigation, NILA will greatly improve your chances of success in federal court.” – Greg Romanovsky, Romanovsky Law Offices, Boston, MA

  • “I greatly appreciate NILA’s attention to detail and the value they place on incorporating the voice of the client and their experiences. As a legal services attorney who is overwhelmed by high demand and low resources, I value NILA’s collaboration which resulted in positive outcomes for my clients that I could not have achieved on my own.” – Elizabeth Badger, PAIR Project, Boston, MA

  • “[NILA] is an indispensable asset to have on your side when going to battle.” – Doug Jalaie, Law Office of Douglas D. Jalaie, Los Angeles, CA

  • “Collaborating with NILA’s experienced litigators was invaluable. It was not only beneficial in expanding my federal practice knowledge base, but, more importantly, my client greatly benefited. Because of NILA’s diligent efforts, my client is a U.S. citizen today. I truly appreciated working with Trina and Kristin. They were professional, responsive, and extremely knowledgeable. It was a true collective effort.” – Jessica Malott, Malott Law, PLC, Iowa City, Iowa

  • “Partnering with NILA added knowledge, experience, and strategy to our litigation team. I have no doubt that their input and assistance helped us get a better outcome, more efficiently, while also sharpening our own skills.” – Derrick J. Hensley, The Law Office of Derrick H. Hensley, PLLC, Hillsborough, NC

  • “As an owner of a small law firm, I have long wished for a comprehensive hands on mentorship program that provides the tools and confidence for both new and experienced practitioners to litigate in uncomfortable waters. NILA’s co counseling program fills that need. Their brilliant team of attorneys are approachable and responsive. The guidance they provide has resulted in our firm taking on more complex cases and helped our attorneys advocate more creatively and confidently than ever before. There is truly no other organization like it.” – Cory Forman, Cohen, Forman Barone, LLP, New York, NY

  • “Having NILA as co-counsel was a huge benefit to me and our client. The NILA team are tireless advocates and experienced litigators whose mentorship enabled the highest level of representation for our client.” – Jennifer Klein, Committee for Public Counsel Services, Malden, MA

  • “NILA’s co-counseling model focuses not only on representation on the pending petition for review but also on mentoring and growing new appellate practitioners. Trina and I strategized together to identify and finesse our legal arguments and she co-wrote and thoroughly edited multiple drafts of briefing, giving me a level of feedback I had not received since law school.” – Rekha Nair, Phoenix Legal Action Network, Tempe, Arizona

  • “As a small firm attorney, I would not have had the capacity to take on a petition for review challenging the BIA’s decision without NILA’s partnership and expertise. I’m confident that, working together, we have presented the strongest arguments possible to the court.” – Brian Blackford, Blackford Law LLC, Omaha, Nebraska

  • “NILA’s co-counseling was truly amazing and I am in awe of the great work that they do. . . . It was definitely eye opening to see everything that is involved. They took their time to answer every question and I feel like I could turn to them in the future with further questions regarding this process.” – Kira Gagarin, Gagarin Law, Framingham, MA

  • “We came to NILA with one of our most complex circuit court appeals and their team took it on with enthusiasm. We and our client have benefitted greatly from co-counseling this matter, and NILA has been thoughtful, collaborative, and strategic throughout.” – Zoe Levine, The Bronx Defenders, Bronx, New York

  • “I’ve worked with NILA on tough cases to seek just resolution for my clients. The staff at NILA is thoughtful, creative, and relentless. I look forward to many years of partnership with them.” – Carlos García, García & García, P.L.L.C., McAllen, Texas

  • “[This case] taught us the ropes of filing a FOIA lawsuit and I think we would feel comfortable filing one on our own in the future.” – Marie Vincent, Pangea Legal Services, San Francisco, CA
  • “NILA has been instrumental in helping us litigate a petition for review of a reinstatement order that has seriously legal flaws. We are extremely grateful for NILA’s expertise and on-going efforts to fight for a future for our client in the United States.” – Jodi Ziesemer, New York Legal Assistance Group, New York, New York

  • “Mary and Trina are great to work with as co-counsel. I thank them for the success in district court for my clients, especially since the Seventh Circuit has unhelpful case law on U visa delay cases!”Maria Baldini-Potermin, Maria Baldini-Potermin & Associates, P.C., Chicago, IL

  • “Trina and Mary are experts in their fields and drawing on their experience is extremely valuable.” – Jonah Eaton, Nationalities Service Center, Philadelphia, PA

National Immigration Litigation Alliance, Inc.
Tel: (617) 819-4649

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