Kathleen C. Walker

Shareholder, Cox Smith Matthews
El Paso

In 1980-1981, while a student at Texas Tech University, Kathleen C. Walker was the Masked Rider mounted on a black horse who led the school’s football team out on the field for home football games.

While her days as the Texas Tech mascot are behind her, now Walker often rides to the rescue of businesses that have run afoul of immigration laws — but not on a horse.

Recently, Walker represented a restaurant with multiple Texas locations that had received a notice from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that it would undergo an audit to determine the accuracy of the restaurant’s employment verification forms and whether some of its employees were authorized to work in this country. As it turned out, Walker says, many employees had presented fake documents. Walker says, when news of the audit filtered into the workforce, not enough employees showed up for work to continue operations. The restaurant had to close some of its locations.

Walker says that, among other things, she and her team assisted management in revising press releases to notify the public that the closings were only temporary and worked with crisis management consultants. She says that she also advised management on how to preserve employees’ privacy while the HSI investigation was ongoing. “It was a major mess,” Walker says.

Walker says the government found no collusion among the restaurant’s upper management and did not assess any criminal penalties against the business.

Walker says she began her career in immigration law with only basic knowledge of the practice area. She took one course on immigration law while a student at the University of Texas School of Law, where she received a J.D. in 1985. Following graduation, Walker says she became the first woman in an all-male firm then known as Hagans Ginnings Birkelbach Keith & Delgado in El Paso. Many of the firm’s clients were cross-border operations that needed to have people working in Mexico and the United States, Walker says. Although the firm did not have a lawyer who could mentor Walker in immigration law, she says she “ended up wading in” and soon found out how complex the practice area is.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) help line is what saved her, Walker says, noting that she quickly joined AILA. Over the years, she has served AILA in different roles, including as its national president in 2007-2008.

Walker became a shareholder in Hagans Ginnings, but left in November 1994 to become a partner in Kemp Smith. In 2008, she joined Brown McCarroll as a partner, but left that firm to join Cox Smith as a shareholder in July 2010.

Top-Knotch Lawyers

Jodi Goodwin

Law Office of Jodi Goodwin

“If I were in trouble with a family member down there [Rio Grande Valley], I wouldn’t hesitate to have her on the case.”

“She’s not afraid to challenge the government.”

Richard A. Gump Jr.

Founding Attorney
Law Offices of Richard A. Gump Jr.

“He has a very strong business immigration practice with a very good understanding of the underlying corporate law and how it impacts corporate strategies.”

“He’s nationally known for counseling companies about employee verification.”

Steven M. Ladik

Dallas Office Managing Partner
Berry Appleman & Leiden

“He developed a reputation in the sports industry for excellence.”

“He’s a go-to for any kind of employment-based immigration.”

Paul Parsons

Managing Partner
Paul Parsons PC

“He’s one of the deans of the immigration bar.”

“He’s dedicated to helping people.”