Get to Know Russell Abrutyn

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Immigration attorney Russell Abrutyn was born in Middletown, N.Y. At 15, he moved to Midland and later attended the University of Michigan for undergraduate and law school.

After graduating, Abrutyn moved to Seattle and began practicing law. He fell in love with immigration law and began specializing in this field.

After two years, Abrutyn and his wife-to-be returned to Michigan, where he has been practicing immigration law since 2002.

Last year, he opened his own firm in Berkley, in Oakland County. He handles all types of immigration cases, including removal defense, federal litigation, family-based applications, employment-based applications, naturalization, asylum, and crimmigration (the intersection of criminal law and immigration law).

He is a frequent speaker at national, regional, and local immigration conferences and volunteers his time on multiple committees and advocacy efforts.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

Residence: Royal Oak.

When you were considering law school, what was Plan B? There was no Plan B, which now that my children are nearing the age where they will have to start thinking about this, was maybe not the best plan. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was in third grade and I still do not have a Plan B because there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

What would surprise people about your job? The diversity of the caseload. One minute I might be advising a noncitizen about the consequences of a serious crime and the next minute advising a film company about how to sponsor a foreign actor for a visa so they can come to the U.S. for the production.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
I am proud of every case that I have won because I know what a difference it makes to the families and companies involved in them. My proudest moment was after winning a case at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and then realizing how many other people that decision would help. It would make the difference between lifetime banishment or being able to stay here as a family for many people.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? I was out at a restaurant with friends for a birthday dinner for my wife. A friend who also practices immigration law came up, introduced himself to my wife, and told her I was the “Lebron James” of immigration law.

Favorite websites: ESPN.com and theatlantic.com.
 
What is your most treasured material possession? For material possessions, it would have to be my television. The picture quality is awesome.

What was always written on your grade school report card?  Something along the lines of “A pleasure to have in class, I wish he would raise his hand or participate more.” I was a very shy student.

What were you doing in your last selfie? First, trying to get my thumb out of the way. Then trying to frame my wife and I in a scenic shot on Mackinac Island.

What question do you most often ask yourself?
What’s next? I am always looking down the road and planning.

What word do you overuse?
“No.” I have two kids and two dogs.
 
If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? One of my daughters. It would be fascinating to see the world through their eyes.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?
The Grand Canyon. Before we had kids, my wife and I drove across country on Route 66. We spent time on the north and south rims and had a blast the whole way there and back.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do?
I would like to learn to skateboard. I need to get better health insurance first.

What is the best advice you ever received? Treat every day like the next. If I stay out late, have a tough day, or have a great day, it is not a reason to slack off or be grumpy the next day.
 

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