Prior BigLaw and In-House Experience
- Berry, Appleman and Leiden LLP
- Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, J.D. 1997
- Immigration Clinic, Student Attorney 1996, 1997
- University of Texas at Arlington, B.S. Criminal Justice, 1993
- Golden Key National Honor Society
- Coors Veterans Memorial Scholarship Award
- Admitted to practice law in Texas
On the professional side…
Brigitte is a U.S. immigration law attorney with over 19 years of experience providing strategic advice to corporations while successfully managing their immigration programs. Her approach leads to compliant policy development, cost savings and long-term client relationships built on trust. She is known as an empathetic lawyer with a keen appreciation of the importance of immigration on the lives of foreign nationals in the U.S.
Brigitte knew she wanted to be an immigration attorney at a young age while growing up by a Border Patrol station at the former Ramey Air Force base in Puerto Rico. This drove her to enroll in SMU Law’s Immigration Clinic where she served as a Student Attorney in 1996 and 1997. After graduating from SMU Law School, her immigration law professor and mentor offered her a position at the Dallas institution, Donnelly & Associates. Thereafter, in June of 2000 she decided to focus solely on business immigration and joined Fragomen, one of the two largest corporate immigration firms with a worldwide presence.
During her 13 years at Fragomen, Brigitte represented corporate clients in a variety of industries, including IT consulting, telecommunications, engineering, aircraft manufacturing, consumer goods, and transportation. She successfully advised multiple companies on the impact of M&As and handled immigration compliance matters during corporate restructuring. Her experience included developing compliant H-1B programs for Fortune 500 consulting firms with both in-house and client site placement issues. In addition, she advised companies on the proper use of B-1 business visitor visas, assisted with handling compliant government site-visits for L and H-1B visa petitions, and developed and administered H-3 Training Visa Programs and Blanket L visa programs for multinational corporations. In this role, she also provided training and presented U.S. immigration overviews to Human Resources personnel, management, foreign business and legal groups in both English and Spanish.
In January 2014, Brigitte joined Berry, Appleman and Leiden, LLP (BAL). BAL is known as the second largest corporate immigration firm with offices nationwide and abroad. As a Partner at BAL, she led the representation of corporate clients in a variety of industries. Partnering with in-house counsel and HR representatives, she continued to provide legal assistance in business immigration cases. Additionally, she provided immigration compliance advice, best practice strategies, policy recommendations and U.S. immigration law training to in-house personnel in legal departments, HR, and management.
On the personal side…
Brigitte was born in New Jersey and was quickly moved to Germany until the age of 2. When her Dad (a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient), retired from the US Army, her parents moved back to their native Puerto Rico. She grew up close to the beach with lots of music, dancing and great Puerto Rican food. When Brigitte graduated from high school, she made the decision to leave her beautiful island and attend the University of Texas. She chose the University of Texas at Arlington so she could be within minutes of her sisters (who had left her behind). There she met Lionel Cortez the III and married him after a 6-year courtship that included a law school first clause.
Lionel and Brigitte have been married for what she jokingly refers to as “20 long years” and have one beautiful daughter, Aria Ileana, a miraculous surprise who loves to dance as much as her mom. Her family also includes her rescued German Shepherd dogs, Zeus and Athena.
She has a passion for decorating, traveling, beaches, rescuing German Shepherds and is trying to add Yoga back to this list.
Brigitte is extremely excited to have found a low cost and unique model that allows her to provide companies not just legal representation with their immigration matters, but also consulting in the areas of compliance reviews, best practices, and immigration vendor selection.