Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan Celebrates 45 Years Practicing Immigration Law and Announces that Beata Leja is a Shareholder

February 18, 2020
Beata Leja

Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. (MMH) is celebrating its 45th anniversary on February 18, 2020.  The firm was founded in 1975 by Joseph (Joe) Minsky (1928-1992).

Five years after Joseph Minsky incorporated his immigration law firm, Margaret (Peggy) McCormick and her brother James (Jim) Hallagan established their own partnership. Peggy had been practicing immigration law since 1978 as the staff immigration lawyer for Travelers and Immigrants’ Aid, a nonprofit organization helping low income immigrants.  Jim was a recent law graduate. The two of them decided to go into private practice together in 1980. When they opened their doors, they expected immigration law would comprise only a part of their work. It was such an unknown field at the time and very few lawyers practiced immigration law. Both Peggy and Jim spoke Spanish and believed that by offering representation for immigration matters, they could attract other kinds of work from the same client base, such as family law, worker’s compensation and real estate. But soon it became apparent that they would dedicate their practice exclusively to immigration law issues–the demand was so intense.

In 1986 Jim and Peggy merged their partnership into Joe Minsky’s firm, with a goal toward building a larger firm, capable of accepting a broader range of cases.  At the time, most lawyers practiced as solo practitioners or partnerships and there were only thirty or so immigration lawyers in Chicago. Joe was an early leader in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), a bar association established to assist immigration lawyers. Joe served as the Chicago Chapter Chair in the early 1980s. After they merged, Peggy became AILA Chapter Chair as well,  and went on to become the AILA national president in 1997. There are now hundreds of AILA lawyers in Chicago and over 15,000 nationwide.

The cost and complexity of the immigration cases has changed since the firm started. There was a time when an application which takes months (or more) to process now could have been approved in one day. The government fees for immigration applications were significantly less. For example, Jim remembers when the petition for a U.S. citizen to sponsor his or her family member (Form I-130) cost only $10. Now, the petition costs $535.  The filing fee to apply for U.S. citizenship (N-400) used to be $35; it is now $725 and the USCIS has proposed raising it to $1255!

At the beginning, the firm accepted mostly family immigration and deportation cases, but before long, the firm began to attract employment immigration matters. During the 1980s, corporate America was finding that the processing for needed visas and permanent residence was complex and easy to mess up.  Before long, the firm had a thriving practice with a broad spectrum of immigration matters.

Over the decades, MMH has expanded its practice and has been recognized by many organizations as a premier Chicago immigration law firm and one of the top immigration law firms in the country.

In 2017, the firm was pleased to welcome retired Judge Robert (Bob) Vinikoor to the firm. After forty years with the government, and many years on the bench, he has joined us to help our clients navigate removal proceedings. Bob and Peggy taught a joint class in immigration law for over thirty years at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

On the occasion of our 45th anniversary, MMH is pleased to announce that partner Beata Leja has joined Jim and Peggy as a shareholder in the firm. Beata is an immigrant herself; she came from Poland as a young child. She is fluent in both Polish and Spanish and was Peggy and Bob’s student at Loyola. She joined the firm in 2007, after graduating.

Beata has built an extensive practice in the field, including assisting a broad range of employers in employment-based immigration matters, family immigration matters, worksite enforcement counseling, as well as DACA, U visa, asylum and removal. She has been a leader in the firm for many years. Beyond her work at the firm, she has been named, among other honors, one of the top 40 Under 40 attorneys in Chicago and a Leading Woman Lawyer in Illinois. She has been an adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School in Chicago and currently serves as a Board Member for the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, a national organization that advocates for the rights and best interests of immigrant children in removal proceedings.

MMH has been a part of each and every one of our client’s journeys, sometimes extending for years.  The immigration process for our clients can be confusing and difficult. Our practice can be challenging, but we take great pride and joy in making our client’s American dream come true.

On this, our 45th anniversary, we also want to recognize those in our firm who have contributed throughout the years by highlighting the following significant milestones:

15-20 Years

  • – Claudia Alvarez – Office Manager

10-15 Years

  • – Angela Arreguin – Legal Assistant

5-10 Years

  • – Sandy Ayala – Legal Assistant
  • – Tahreem Kalam – Associate Attorney
  • – Linda Sanchez Ortega – EOIR Manager
  • – Miguel Torres – Legal Assistant

Up to 5 Years

  • – Andres Arrez – Legal Assistant
  • – Zeena Barazanji – Associate Attorney
  • – Anna Buskila – Associate Attorney
  • – Jeffrey Cohn – Associate Attorney
  • – Maria Espinoza – Legal Assistant
  • – Marjorie Filice – Associate Attorney
  • – Allison Gomersall – Legal Assistant
  • – Vinnie Hernandez – Legal Assistant
  • – Aaron Lawee – Associate Attorney
  • – Arely Rojas-Rodriguez – Receptionist & Legal Assistant
  • – Alejandra Romero – Receptionist & Legal Assistant
  • – Chandni Shah – Associate Attorney
  • – Angie Avila – Legal Assistant
  • – Hon. Robert Vinikoor – Of Counsel

We are proud of our legacy having served thousands of immigrants over the last 45 years and look forward to continuing our work for decades more!


The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.

© 2023 Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. All rights reserved. Information may not be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C.

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