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Life and Work with Tracie L. Klinke

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracie L. Klinke.

Tracie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew-up in Wichita, KS and was exposed to immigration issues early-on. My mom was married to someone for Mexico for about ten years and I have a sister who was adopted from Russia when I was 17. In college (University of Kansas), I worked in the international student office, which was great. I loved learning about other cultures and helping people navigate life here in the US. I obtained a BA in English and a MA in International Studies. After school, my dad asked me what I wanted to do and I said “I want people to pay me to think” – at the time, neither one of us thought about becoming a lawyer (though it makes perfect sense now!). I went to Poland and taught English for about 9 months after completing my MA. After returning to the US, I took a job at the Atlanta Kaplan Center running their English Programs and working on compliance with their international students. Many of the students had questions about their immigration status beyond what I could answer and I got tired of saying “I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer”, so I changed that! I went to Georgia State University College of Law (part-time) and graduated in December 2008. I was one of the few who went into law school knowing what type of law I wanted to practice. I started to work for a small firm (Socheat Chea, PC) in Duluth where I focused on working with immigrant victims of violence, waiver cases, and some removal defense work. In October 2012, I opened Klinke Immigration in Marietta. I wanted to be able to focus on working with immigrant victims of violence, human trafficking, and helping families stay together (or reunite). Over these last six years, we’ve helped nearly 1000 families and individuals. Our staff is now at four and I’m so proud of the work we’re able to do – especially these days as things get more and more difficult. Our clients are more than problems to solve, but we really do want them best for them and their families.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of the things I struggled with at the prior firm was being a female – if I was asked to cover a case or consultation, there could be push-back from clients who wanted a male attorney to handle their case. They’d learn to work with me, but one of the best things about having my own firm is that clients know they’ll be working with me.
In my firm, though, clients initially asked for discounts. Sometimes, they’d play the “gender card” saying things like “you’re so nice and caring, you understand that I have to feed my family and can’t afford that much – can you reduce your rate?” The answer is always no because I don’t reduce the amount of work that goes into a case. I put up a “wall of power” in the consultation room so the clients can see all of our awards and diplomas before I step in to meet with them. Since putting that up, the requests for discounts is nearly zero. Clients know the value of the services they’re getting from us without me having to say a word, So… know your value and if you’re not comfortable with saying how great you are, find ways to get others to do it for you.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Klinke Immigration – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are one of the few law firms in Marietta that focus solely on immigration law. Within this field, we focus on working with immigrant victims of violent crime and domestic violence; consular processing (bring people in from outside the country), helping newlyweds stay together and navigate the immigration system and we also help people become US citizens.

I’m active in the local immigrant community, giving presentations to domestic violence task force groups and speaking about hot topics (there are so many right now!).

I am proud of being able to help people live without fear in this country – every success is a bit sweeter these days since the system is getting more and more difficult.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
I stay up to date on immigration issues through the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council.

But, in terms of life – I talk a lot with other practitioners (it’s so helpful to know we’re not alone) and I find ways to disconnect from work, like volunteering with church, hanging out with my dog (Rita) or spending time with my partner (Bill).


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