Alexandra Lozano Means Business
After losing everything in a hurricane, the immigration attorney remade her practice in Seattle
Published in 2021 Washington Super Lawyers magazine on July 15, 2021
When 16-year-old Alexandra Lozano traveled to Belize on a church trip, she witnessed poverty firsthand for the first time. The experience was shocking to someone who had spent a middle-class childhood in Ocala, Florida.
“It really changed my life and my perspective,” Lozano says.
The trip instilled a lifelong love of Latin American culture and set her on a course toward immigration law. Little did she know that road would lead through some rocky early law experiences, then to the loss of everything she owned in a hurricane—after which she would rebound to launch a Seattle practice.
After earning an undergraduate degree in Spanish, Lozano moved West for law school at Seattle University. While there, she served an internship with the DOJ’s local Executive Office for Immigration Review—a position she persuaded the office to create for immigration law students. J.D. in hand, she went on to work at a couple of small firms, defending immigrants facing deportation, but things weren’t gelling.
“I had this passion and mission, and nobody [at the firms] talked about being driven by that,” says Lozano, whose own grandparents were immigrants, from Italy and the Czech Republic. Weeks assigned to grim detention centers amidst a workplace she found unsupportive prompted a decision to ditch the law career and move to Mexico to teach English.
But when some of her clients asked her to keep them on, she decided to open her own firm in Cabo San Lucas. She eventually hired a business manager, Manuel Lozano, whom she would later marry. Her plan was simply to keep expenses low: “I figured I didn’t need a lot to live in Mexico, so I thought that it would allow me to do the work that I loved and not have to worry about money.”
That subsistence-living approach worked for two years.
In September 2014, seven months pregnant with her son, Quique, she flew back to Seattle to attend her baby shower. Just as she was due to return to Mexico, Hurricane Odile hit Baja California, destroying her Cabo home and all their belongings.
Lozano sized up the situation and decided it was time to start treating her firm like a business. Rather than rebuild in Cabo, she relocated the firm to Seattle. It ended its first year with six-figure earnings, which she credits partly to her aggressive use of social and new media. She also began marketing consistently and thinking like a CEO, focusing on basic things like invoicing. Lozano says many lawyers—especially women—undercharge. “There’s this permeating thought, especially when you serve underserved communities, that you can’t make money if you care,” she says. “You can do great work and earn a great living.”
In 2016, Lozano started doing weekly Facebook Live chats in Spanish called “Mi Abogada Dice,” posting content to her YouTube channel, and hosting a free call-in legal clinic.
She currently does as many as four Facebook Live videos a day, along with the phone clinic and a quarterly in-person clinic. “I became very dedicated to giving legal information to the community,” she says.
It was tough juggling motherhood and the demands of her practice, so in 2015, she started a support organization for women like her—AMIGA, the Association of Mother Immigration Attorneys.
“It became this incredible journey where you feel understood and seen,” says Lozano. She and Manuel have a blended family of five children. “As a new mom in a new-ish business phase, I had all these women along with me.”
She released several courses on her website on practice management and immigration law; and authored four books, including Be the CEO of Your Law Firm: Gain Control, Turn a Profit, and Reclaim Your Life.
Her firm is known for getting results when it comes to helping immigrants gain legal status. She has just two attorneys, with a full-time team of 100 support staffers in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia—psychologists, writers, paralegals and more.
When possible, she uses two avenues she says are often overlooked: the T-Visa and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The more common U Visa is used by immigrants who are victims of crimes and have reported them to police and are willing to cooperate with law enforcement, Lozano explains. By contrast, the T Visa is for survivors of human trafficking in the United States.
These applicants might not report their plight to police, Lozano says, because they don’t realize they can. Often, they have little education or money and may have grown up witnessing domestic violence, so abuse may seem normal.
Using VAWA for immigration is even trickier, Lozano says, because it’s for those abused by a U.S. citizen or a spouse (or child over age 21) who is a permanent resident. Attorneys need to ask awkward questions to see if there’s an abuse case to be made—and most don’t, she says.
“I’ll bring up ‘marital problems’ in every single consultation, no matter what,” she says. “It’s advocacy, and a lot of attorneys don’t like it.
“My clients, when I tell them that we’ve gained legal status, usually are in tears, crying, thanking me,” she says. “I feel so blessed by this opportunity to change the lives of such incredibly deserving people. … It’s the best feeling in the world.”