PLS IMMIGRATION UNIT



James Milstein, Managing Attorney. Jim Milstein graduated from the University of Vermont in 1980 and Albany Law School in 1983. He was an Assistant Public Defender for Albany County and a partner in the law firm of Milstein & Milstein from 1984 to 2011.  Jim was the Albany County Public Defender from 2011 -2016.  From 2016 through 2018, Jim was the Director of the Regional Immigration Assistance Center for the Capital District and Northern New York. In this capacity Jim provided assistance and training to attorneys in fourteen counties in Upstate New York who were representing noncitizen clients in criminal proceedings.  As Public Defender Jim was recognized for his commitment to provide alternative treatment programs for clients and was proud to work with other community leaders to develop the Law Enforcement Assistance Diversion (LEAD) Program which has received national recognition.  As the Director of the Regional Immigration Assistance Center, Jim would assist attorneys to insure that the attorneys were properly counseling noncitizen clients of the immigration consequences of their cases as constitutionally required by Padilla v. Kentucky. Most importantly, Jim guided attorneys to achieve the most advantageous plea bargains that would minimize or eliminate the potential disastrous effects of deportation. He also provided direct representation for cases in which post-conviction relief proceedings[JM1] . The Regional Immigration Assistance Center also provided legal assistance to individuals who had been arrested by local ICE officers.

Nicholas Phillips, Supervising Attorney.
 Before joining PLS, Nick worked as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow at Pace Community Law Practice in White Plains, NY, where he provided free legal representation to prisoners in deportation proceedings and to unaccompanied children in Immigration Court and Family Court proceedings. A 2014 graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Nick worked in law school at the Immigration Justice Clinic, where he represented immigrants in deportation proceedings because of criminal convictions, and at the Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented incarcerated clients in federal civil rights lawsuits. After graduation, Nick served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Frederic Block of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. ​​

Sayra Gordillo, Immigration Staff Attorney. A 2016 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, Sayra has a long history of advocating for social justice. Sayra was an organizer for the National Guestworker Alliance and Missouri Jobs with Justice prior to attending law school. As a law student, Sayra conducted wrongful conviction investigations for the Midwest Innocence Project and received the Peggy Browning and Center for Constitutional Rights Ella Baker Fellowships for her work at the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice. As a visiting student at Northeastern Law in Boston, she completed the Prisoners’ Rights Clinic and interned at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Immigration Impact Unit, focusing in criminal and immigration issues. Before joining PLS, Sayra was a Volunteer Attorney at the Federal Public Defender’s office in Kansas City.

Rohmah Javed, Immigration Staff Attorney. Rohmah was born in Southampton, England and then moved to Toronto, Canada where she grew up. In 2014, Rohmah received her Bachelors of Science in Life Sciences at McMaster University before moving to Cleveland, Ohio for law school. Rohmah graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of law where she spent her final year working in the Milton. A Kramer Civil Rights, Human Rights and Immigration Law Clinic. She became interested in immigration law because of her own family’s unique immigration story and after working on asylum cases and other affirmative immigration applications at the Clinic. Rohmah was admitted to practice law by the New York State Bar in January 2017.  ​

Joseph Moravec, Immigration Staff Attorney. Joseph Moravec has been with the PLSNY Immigration Unit since November 2017, and holds degrees from Washington & Lee University (2013 – B.A. – Political Science) and Pace University School of Law (2017 – J.D. /LL.M. – Environmental Law).  He is admitted to practice law in the State of New Jersey as well as the U.S. District Courts for New Jersey, the Northern District of New York, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Before joining PLSNY, he completed legal externships at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the U.S. Department of Justice, and St. Andrew’s Refugee Legal Services in Cairo, Egypt.  In 2016, he also served as a delegate to the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.  He is based out of PLSNY’s Albany office. 


Christine McClellan, Immigration Staff Attorney. Christine was born in Binghamton, New York, and grew up in the neighboring suburb of Vestal. She completed her undergraduate studies at Binghamton University, where she graduated with dual degrees in Arabic Studies and Political Science. In 2014, Christine moved to Buffalo, New York to attend law school at the University at Buffalo School of Law. In her third year of law school, Christine was selected as a Pro Bono Scholar, and took the bar exam in February 2017. She then spent the remainder of her final semester as a full-time fellow at ECBA Volunteer Lawyers Project, where she worked with attorneys across the organization’s many practice areas, including immigration. Christine graduated and was admitted to the New York State Bar in June 2017. Prior to her employment with PLS, Christine worked as a staff attorney for Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Law Project in Brooklyn.


​​Jillian Nowak, Immigration Staff Attorney was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Jillian received her B.A. in Sociology from Hofstra University and her J.D. from the University at Buffalo with a concentration in International Law. In 2014, as the recipient of the Buffalo Human Rights Center Fellowship, Jillian conducted research on reparations for victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide through the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Jillian was selected for the inaugural class of New York Pro Bono Scholars and was admitted to the New York State Bar in June 2015. Before joining PLS, Jillian worked at Journey’s End Refugee Services, one of Buffalo’s refugee resettlement agencies, providing free and low cost legal representation to immigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers. 


Aisatou Diallo, Law Graduate  was born in the Bronx, New York. She holds a BS in Law and Society from Sage College of Albany, with minors in Psychology and Business, a Master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy, and a Juris Doctorate from Vermont Law School. Aisatou’s motivation to attend law school came from her experience working directly with immigrants.  Working with incoming families, she provided assistance with government benefit forms on areas such as food stamps, driver licenses, and Medicare. Her volunteer work has also included working remotely to help build an online Immigration Center for a refugee support organization based in Canada, and visiting detention centers in Texas to provide assistance to asylum seekers. In her second year of law school, Aisatou was a Human Rights Fellow at Vermont Law School, where she worked with the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions researching the risks of life faced by women and girl refugees and asylum seekers. Aisatou also spent her last year of law school interning with the Bloomington Immigration Court and the Executive Office of Immigration 

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Mary Slattery, Immigration Attorney, Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow. Mary joined the Immigration Unit in September 2018 with a fellowship from the Immigrant Justice Corps. She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in May 2018, where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar.  She has completed internships with PLSNY's Immigration Unit, the San Francisco court of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Legal Centre Lesbos in Greece, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project in Oregon, and the Mekong Migration Network in Thailand. Prior to law school, she spent 4 years as an Immigration Paralegal, first with the Immigrant Worker Project in Canton, OH and later at the Legal Aid Society of NYC where she practiced as an Accredited Representative before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Mary received her B.A. from Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH in Political Science and Latin American Studies. ​Mary was admitted to practice law by the New York State Bar in January 2019. 

Halinka Zolcik, Immigration Justice Corps Fellow. Halinka joined the Albany office of PLS as an immigration law graduate/immigrant justice corps fellow in September 2017. Halinka received her JD from the University of Wyoming College of Law in May 2017. Before attending law school, she worked for a criminal law district court judge for two years where she realized the injustice that incarcerated immigrants face. She has participated in a wide-variety of internships in the area of criminal law, including internships with the: Colorado Public Defenders Office, Colorado Adult Probation, United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado, Wyoming Guardian Ad Litem’s Office and the Wyoming Public Defender’s Office. She was an intern at the International Human Rights Clinic in Laramie, Wyoming in her second year of law school and the student director of the clinic in her final year of law school. In January 2017, Ms. Zolcik was offered a position as an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow and was subsequently placed with Prisoners Legal Services.