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 as capacity and expertise. Preference is given to NILA members. NILA’s present co-counseling docket includes: petitions for review challenging final removal orders and/or denials motions to reopen/reconsider; damages claims challenging negligence, assault, wrongful deportations, abuse and/or misconduct by immigration officers; district court action challenging unlawful agency delay or unlawful agency decisions/policies; habeas corpus petitions challenging unlawful detention; district court actions seeking agency records under the Freedom of Information Act; and motions to recover attorneys’ fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act. 

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 a portion of an existing retainer fee (if any) or be willing to seek recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs;
  4. Abide by the terms of the co-counsel agreement; and
  5. Agree to complete a services evaluation at the end of the case.

How to Apply:

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

  1. A BRIEF description of the facts/nature of the case and perceived legal issues and, if appropriate, attaching any decision and key 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.


  • “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 bad case law on U visa delay cases!”
  • “I would highly recommend co-counseling with NILA. NILA has extraordinarily talented, experienced litigators who guided me through the process of drafting my first mandamus complaint. . . . I am better prepared to challenge agency delays in federal court as part of my ongoing practice.”
  • “[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.”
  •  “Trina and Mary are experts in their fields and drawing on their experience is extremely valuable.”

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