Nation - Immigration lawyer finds early gamble on Internet marketing pays off Focus is on foreign medical professionals

By Nora Tooher

The Daily Record Newswire

BOSTON, MA -- Gregory Siskind has always been precocious.

He graduated from Vanderbilt University when he was 19, took a few months off and then went on to get his law degree from the University of Chicago School of Law in 1990. After a four-year stint with a large firm in Nashville, Tenn., he launched a solo immigration law practice in 1994.

He quickly became interested in the Internet as a marketing tool.

"The Internet was the centerpiece of my marketing plan," said Siskind, who partnered with his sister-in-law, Lynn Susser, shortly after he started the firm. "I was the first solo, first immigration law, first southern law firm in the U.S. [with a website]."

The firm's website features informative articles and news updates about immigration issues.

In addition, Siskind said, he was one of the first lawyers to participate in online chats and the first lawyer to distribute a newsletter via e-mail.

Also, he said, "I was the first lawyer in the country with a blog, which started in 1997, even before the term 'blog' was coined."

Reid Trautz, director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's practice and professionalism center, agreed.

"Greg was one of the first lawyers on the Internet, and continues to be at the forefront of Internet marketing via his website, blogs and social media presence."

Siskind's Internet marketing efforts have helped build his firm, Siskind Susser, into a 12-lawyer practice with offices in Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville.

In addition, "we're the U.S. firm for a global immigration law firm, which we helped to found, that's now in 25 countries," Siskind said. "Being the one U.S. firm in that group has meant a steady stream of work coming in."

Siskind Susser began by targeting industries with large numbers of foreign professionals, starting with health care.

After co-writing a book on medical waste management, Siskind developed some connections in the health care industry. Nashville is home not only to the country music industry, but to scores of large health care corporations.

"I've always had this practice area that's been unusual in immigration, with an emphasis on health care, particularly the doctors," he said. "That's been a good niche from the beginning. It pays well, compared with other areas of immigration law, and it's one of the most complex areas of immigration law."

The firm covers everything a foreign physician needs, "from the initial work visa all the way through citizenship," Siskind said.

From the start, the firm also targeted high-tech companies and universities.

"Really, the only places that had Internet in 1993-94 were universities," Siskind recalled. "At the time, the plan was to focus my Internet marketing on universities and high-tech," in addition to seeking out clients in Nashville and developing his health care practice.

Siskind's clients now include universities, several national laboratories with thousands of scientists, high-tech firms and health care companies.

His Internet marketing efforts have also led to a longstanding relationship with Cirque du Soleil, the Canada- based circus troupe. After reading an article Siskind wrote online, a human relations executive at Cirque e-mailed him and he began conducting informational seminars for the performers and helping out with immigration law issues.

The firm's Nashville location has opened the door to immigration law work for country music and other entertainment industry professionals.

Siskind's expertise in immigration law and the Internet, combined with a love of writing, has made him a well-known immigration law expert.

"Over the years, I've done just tons and tons of writing for our website, and I have written four books and written on other sites," he said.

His blog on immigration law and policy appears on ILW.com, the website of a New York-based immigration law publisher.

"We deliberately didn't want it to be on the [law firm] site because I knew it was going to be more opinionated," Siskind said. "I kind of wanted a separate identity for it."

Trautz said Siskind has helped raise awareness about immigration issues.

"Greg's articles, blogs, tweets and electronic newsletters are not just marketing for his firm, but are helpful to clients, government officials, lawmakers and other members of the bar," Trautz said.

Siskind, who lives in Memphis with his wife, Audrey, and three daughters, ages 10, 13 and 14, said he is pleased both personally and professionally with his choice of immigration law as a practice niche.

"I love what I do," Siskind said.

Published: Thu, Sep 23, 2010