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 have never litigated a case in federal court as well as for more experienced attorneys who are filing a new type of federal court case. 

NILA staff will co-counsel federal court cases, allowing existing immigration counsel to learn litigation skills while simultaneously having the legal expertise and support to present the strongest case possible. Case in the co-counseling program are governed by a co-counseling agreement that dictates, among other issues, the responsibilities and tasks of each counsel, work product deadlines, and fee recovery. In general, NILA will serve as lead counsel in cases in the program.

Cases will be accepted into NILA’s co-counsel program on a case-by-case basis as capacity permits and following an individual consultation with NILA staff. Preference will be given to NILA members and cases in which NILA staff have expertise. NILA attorneys have particular expertise in DHS-issued removal orders, temporary protected status, motions to reopen or reconsider, asylum, damages claims (including claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Bivens and Section 1983), mandamus actions to compel agency action, APA claims challenging unlawful agency decisions or policies, actions to compel return to the United States, detention challenges, FOIA claims, and attorneys’ fee litigation. 

Attorneys interested in co-counsel must:

  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. Share with NILA a portion of an existing retainer fee, if any, and/or be willing to seek recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs;
  4. Abide strictly by the specific terms of the co-counsel agreement, including deadlines; and
  5. Agree to complete a services evaluation at the end of the case.

How to Apply

Attorneys interested in co-counseling a case should send an email with CO-COUNSELING REQUEST in the subject line to Trina Realmuto ( and/or Mary Kenney ( with the following information: 

  1. A BRIEF summary describing the facts/nature of the case and identifying perceived legal issues. If challenging a removal order, please attach the decision and key briefing;
  2. Information about any impending deportation or case-related deadlines; and
  3. General dates/times of availability for a consultation with NILA staff about the case.

Attorneys can expect to receive a response from NILA within 2-4 business days. If the case is being considered for the co-counsel program, NILA will schedule an appointment to discuss the matter further. 

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