Profile in Brief-Meghan Kennedy Riordan Irish Eyes are Moving

Livonia attorney Meghan Kennedy Riordan has spent the last two decades getting people moved into the United States through her immigration law practice. It's now her practice that's doing the moving.

As of April 12, the secretary of the Incorporate Society of Irish American Lawyers will be moving back into the big-firm world when Kennedy Riordan & Associates, the firm she's run for close to 11 years, merges with Kerr, Russell and Weber's downtown office to replace retiring immigration law partner Tom Williams.

"I have to say that they were really open to what I've been doing and are giving me a lot of latitude to grow the business the way I think it should be grown," Kennedy Riordan, who's taking her all-women team with her, says of her soon-to-be new coworkers.

"I like challenges, and the fact that they don't have as many women as they probably should, and they realize that and they're trying to diversify," she says, adding, "It's good to see the legal side of law firms really evaluate how things are done. It should not be done the same way anymore."

Such recent changes to the legal profession closely mirror the economic changes that have helped shaped her work as an immigration attorney specializing in corporate cases.

"I think people have to realize we have a global economy, and corporate immigration is moving corporate personnel," Kennedy Riordan says. "The majority of people who are in the U.S. legally have bachelors' [degrees] on up, or they work for an international company, and they bring in their knowledge, which at times helps grow a business to hire more Americans."

She also works on reverse cases -- companies relocating American workers abroad to give them international business experience -- as well as some family law, amnesty and deportation matters.

A native of Buffalo, Kennedy Riordan graduated from that city's Canisius College before relocating to Michigan to attend law school at the University of Detroit Mercy. A job with her mentor and former Ford Motor Company attorney Jack English showed immigration law to be a natural fit with her initial plan to pursue a career in human relations.

"I deal with a lot of the different issues I was interested in. I deal with different cultures, different backgrounds," she says. "It just appealed to me."

UDM is also where she met her husband, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Riordan. The couple have three kids, ages 11, 9 and 6.

In addition to her work with ISIAL, Kennedy Riordan, a colon cancer survivor, is also instrumental in the fundraising efforts of the Women Lawyers Foundation, which provides scholarships to women law students; the Federal Bar Association's immigration practice group; and as a mentor and national liasion between the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection.

"I run around like a crazy woman," she says, adding that "If the laundry doesn't get done for a couple days or your house doesn't get cleaned for a couple days or you have to stop what you're working on and get home, it's okay. You just have to relax more. I think attorneys need to relax a little bit more."

Staying balanced is one of the challenges Kennedy Riordan relishes, like the one presented by moving her practice back downtown.

"It's bittersweet, it's a little nervewracking, but I'm really going to embrace this and I think that this will be good for me," she says. "It's a challenge. I guess that's the big thing, it's a huge challenge. I like challenges."

Published: Wed, Mar 17, 2010

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