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Ester Greenfield

When it comes to dealing with the complexities of immigration law, Ester Greenfield manages to combine humility with a deep level of expertise and experience.

It’s a combination recognized often by peers, clients and the public, including her being named Immigration Lawyer of the Year, Seattle, by Best Lawyers in America, 2013 and 2015.

An immigration lawyer at MacDonald Hoague and Bayless for more than 38 years, Ester knows the intricacies of obtaining employment-sponsored green cards and labor certifications. Companies large, medium and small come to her when desiring to hire professionals, multinational managers or outstanding researchers. For individuals and families, Ester offers invaluable assistance to help in obtaining green cards, becoming a U.S. Citizen, and submitting petitions for other benefits, including those falling under the Violence Against Women Act.

To all of her clients, she brings a keen attention to detail and a broad knowledge of immigration law as well as methods to deal with potential challenges. Working closely with a team of highly skilled attorneys and dedicated paralegals, Ester is adept at, step-by-step, navigating the maze of regulations and procedures to reach her clients’ goals.

Before joining MH&B in 1978, Ester was a law clerk to the Hon. Prentice H. Marshall, US District Judge, Northern District of Illinois, 1976-78. She attended law school at the University of Illinois directly after receiving her B.A. from the University of Chicago. Ester had actually decided during her freshman year of college to become a lawyer due in part to her practical nature of wanting to know where she was going. Her idealistic side was drawn to law out of a sense of seeking justice for all, of righting wrongs, and to address fairness and equality.

Specializing in immigration law. During her first years at MH&B, Ester practiced litigation rather than immigration law. She gradually moved into the field in large part because one of the firm’s founders, Fran Hoague, had been helping immigrants since the 1950s to have a chance at achieving the American Dream. By 1990, she was a full-time immigration lawyer, and Ester continues to value the skills she developed when practicing general litigation that can be applied to her chosen specialty.

An immigration lawyer cannot succeed without a team effort. One of the most important qualities Ester values about the team of other lawyers and paralegals she works with at MH&B is the atmosphere of trust and respect. Immigration law requires a strong orientation to detail and meeting a sequence of deadlines. For Ester, a good team pulling together is the best way to meet a client’s needs. It’s part of the advice she would offer a new lawyer: Yes, begin to gain the experience you need to become successful in your future practice. But also seek smart role models and people who are compassionate and caring not just toward the client but toward the people you work with.

Power of Trust. That relationship of trust extends to individual clients and companies sponsoring potential employees. Many cases can be completed in a matter of months. But Ester can also persevere over the long haul. For one family, a determined Ester has actually been helping various family members achieve their status over a 20-year period.

Past Chair of the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) Washington State Chapter, Ester is a nationally recognized writer and lecturer on immigration issues, including the topic of labor certification. Her knowledge and input have been essential in formulating large-scale immigration business solutions and policies. She also advocated before the U.S. Department of Labor for reform in the labor certification process.

As an Adjunct Professor at Seattle University (previously University of Puget Sound), Ester has taught immigration law and an immigration clinic. In addition to Department of Labor liaison committees and AILA committees, Ester has recently served on AILA’s national Students and Scholars Committee.

Ester is “AV” rated by Martindale-Hubbell*, the highest rating obtainable by members of the legal community.  The lawyer also has a “Superb 10.0″ level rating on Avvo. And she is a member of the selective IMMLAW, The National Consortium of Immigration Law Firms, an association of senior immigration lawyers from around the country who serve as a resource and sounding board for each other.

Ester is married and has a grown son now living in Brooklyn who plays jazz saxophone. Also musically oriented, Ester has taken up the standup bass and can be found playing jazz around town. She also enjoys hiking in the Pacific Northwest, including a recent 40-mile hike to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail with a like-minded group of women.

Professional and Civic Involvement

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association (Former Vice Chair, National Department of Labor liaison Committee; Former President, Washington Chapter; Senior Editor of the AILA Annual Handbook; Member, National Students and Scholars Committee 2013-2014)
  • Member, IMMLAW, national consortium of noted immigration lawyers
  • Seattle Human Rights Commission former member
  • Seattle University School of Law (Former adjunct professor teaching immigration law and VAWA immigration clinic)
  • Washington State Bar Association (Member)
  • Volunteer and Coordinator, King County Bar Association Immigration Legal Clinic


  • University of Chicago, B.A., 1973
  • University of Illinois, J.D., 1976
  • Law Clerk to Hon. Prentice H. Marshall, US District Judge, Northern District of Illinois, 1976-78

Advancing Justice, Freedom, Equality & Opportunity.

Since 1952, we have been helping individual and corporate clients navigate immigration laws and fight for their civil rights and liberties. We look forward to working with you.

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