Immigrant Lawyer Fiona McEntee receives 2021 UCD Alumni Award in Law

UCD Sutherland School of Law was delighted to honour Fiona McEntee as this year’s recipient for the UCD Alumni Award in Law. The virtual celebration was hosted by Pat Kenny and took place on Thursday, 18 November 2021.

A recording of Fiona McEntee in conversation with Pat Kenny can be viewed here. Fiona McEntee is an award-winning, nationally recognised immigration attorney who graduated from UCD with a BCL in 2005. 

Fiona McEntee is Founder and Managing Attorney of the Chicago-based McEntee Law Group. She counsels clients, individuals and families as well as world-leading musicians and athletes, on everchanging immigration policies. Fiona and her team of passionate advocates represent individuals and families, as well as the world’s leading musicians, artists, athletes, innovative entrepreneurs/startups, and multinational and U.S. companies.

Fiona is also the Chair of the Media & Advocacy Committee for AILA National, the bar association with over 15,000 immigration lawyer members. She regularly appears on national/international media including MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, BBC, and RTÉ. She also counsels other immigration attorneys about leveraging the media to fiercely advocate for clients.

Fiona has won many awards including the ISBA Elmer Gertz Award and the Chicago-Kent College of Law Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award (O’Hare Airport Attorneys -Muslim Travel Ban). In 2019, Fiona was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame in the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago.

Last year, Fiona wrote and published her first book – Our American Dream – a children’s book on immigration. As a mom of two young children, an immigrant, and an immigration lawyer who fights for justice every day, she wrote Our American Dream to explain the importance of a diverse and welcoming America.

We are delighted to be able to share some thoughts from Fiona where she remembers her time in UCD while offering some very inspiring advice to our current students. 

What does UCD mean to you now? “I was one of the first in my family to go to the third level. I’ve such happy memories of UCD – the friends I met there I still have to this day. I learned so much that still informs my work.”

What aspects of your work do you enjoy most? “I’m proud of being able to use my voice to advocate for others. I have huge privilege as an educated white Irish immigrant and an immigration lawyer.”

What achievements are you most proud of? “I feel like we have a responsibility to influence the narrative of immigration to the US. I am proud of that work. I also wrote a children’s book on immigration.”

How significantly has your work been affected by the pandemic? “It had a huge impact. Everything was shut down. There were no Green Card interviews, no visa appointments, there were travel bans. On a personal note, it’s been difficult. My cousin, who was like a brother to me, passed away from cancer last May and I haven’t been able to return to Dublin.” 

What advice do you have for new graduates? “Find work you are passionate about. Life is too short to do work that does not satisfy you. Social media can be a good tool, but be wary of what you say on it.”