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Akron attorney to be honored for social justice efforts

Legal News Reporter

Published: December 6, 2018

As an immigrant himself, Cuyahoga Falls attorney Farhad Sethna understands the challenges involved in securing a Visa and becoming a citizen.

Sethna left Bombay (now Mumbai), India in 1986, after being granted a student visa to the United States that allowed him to pursue an advanced degree.

He spent his first year in the U.S. at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas before transferring to The University of Akron, where he was given a full scholarship. He received his juris doctor and his MBA in 1990 and 1991 respectively.

After working for the Akron law firm of Guy Lammert & Towne from 1991 to 1995, Sethna started a solo law practice, focusing on immigration law and continuing to handle a limited number of commercial, bankruptcy and landlord/tenant matters.

Fast-forward to today and Sethna continues to assist immigrants, including some seeking an education as he did and others who are fleeing persecution and violence in search of asylum in the United States.

He also defends family members facing deportation and works to reunite immigrants with loved ones who are living in other nations by securing waivers to bring them to the U.S.

“I felt that immigration was a good fit for me because I went through the process myself so I understand the minds and aspirations of immigrants,” said Sethna.

“My office represents clients in their initial entry into the U.S. as well as those seeking immigration through employment, family or investor status,” said Sethna. “From being a solo practitioner in a windowless office, I now have a dedicated multilingual staff.

“I do try to provide pro bono assistance to those who cannot afford to pay.

“I really enjoy what I do, but it has definitely become more challenging in the last two years.”

Since 1995 Sethna has taught an immigration law class at The University of Akron School of Law.

“I exhort my students to take at least one pro bono case each year, regardless of area of practice to level the playing field,” he said.

“Together we attorneys can set the government back on its heels.”

To further assist families in Ohio, Sethna has developed a website (http://saveimmigrantfamiliesusa.com), which offers free helpful instructions and form documents that can be filed in juvenile, probate or domestic relations courts in Ohio to secure the safety of family members, especially children, should their undocumented parents be apprehended by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and removed from the U.S.

“The website contains information not only on guardianship and custody but also powers of attorney for persons and property as well as information for non-citizen victims of crime or human trafficking,” he said.

Sethna’s dedication to the plight of immigrants recently led the Catholic Commission of Summit County to select him as the 2018 recipient of the Bishop William M. Cosgrove Justice Award.

The award is given to individuals or organizations that demonstrate a strong commitment to social justice in harmony with biblical values and seek to educate, raise awareness or find solutions for vulnerable populations.

Sethna said when he received the news that he had been chosen he was “very surprised and very honored. I am extremely humbled.

“I sincerely thank the many who made this award possible. No man or woman is an island and it is only by working together that we can achieve the impossible.”

Sister Catherine Walsh nominated Sethna for the award. Sethna said he has worked Sister Catherine at the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine for many years, assisting her when needed with individuals who had U.S. immigration issues and providing general immigration information in a group setting.

In her nomination form, Sister Catherine Walsh wrote, “Farhad Sethna has been an active, compassionate and generous helper to people who are coping with all the diverse and complicated sufferings attendant to our current immigration situation. He has provided gentle guidance and education, free legal counsel and representation to dozens of our brothers and sisters and their children. He has worked with local judges and agencies to develop and initiate efforts to protect immigrant children and families. He has motivated and invited other lawyers to donate their time and expertise to immigrant families.

“We have worked with him closely for a long time and always found him to be both generous and kind, giving greatly of his professional expertise, time and effort without thought to his personal profit. He would be a most worthy recipient of this award.”

Sethna will receive the award during the 40th annual Bishop Cosgrove Justice Dinner and Silent Auction on Friday, Dec. 7 at The Tangier, located at 532 W. Market St. in Akron. The event gets underway at 6 p.m. For more information about the dinner, go to (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/40th-annual-bishop-cosgrove-justice-dinner-silent-auction-tickets-47426388605).

“There are millions more people just like me out there fighting to become legal in the U.S.,” said Sethna. “I plan to continue to do whatever I can to help them make their dreams a reality, one client, one pro bono case at a time.”