Attorney at Law Magazine Cleveland Publisher Jim Schultz sat down with Aleksandar Cuic to discuss his career and the accomplishment he’s most proud of in his life.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Cuic: I never envisioned being an attorney. There weren’t any attorneys in my family or social circle growing up, so it simply was not a profession I had any exposure to. When I finished my undergraduate studies, I had several employment opportunities that I had considered. However, I was barely 23 years old and frankly, not ready to go into the work force. So, I needed another plan. Fortunately, by then my sister had married an attorney and I figured why not give law school a try? Obviously, I haven’t looked back and I’m glad I took the chance.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
Cuic: As the child of immigrant parents, who had a difficult path achieving the American Dream, seeing what they were able to accomplish and how they raised their three kids is what has taught me the most. My parents’ stories of struggles and accomplishments are without doubt the greatest experience I’ve learned from. There should be a book or movie on what they went through and what they’ve accomplished. My father was a butcher and my mom had her own business and witnessing their long hours, seven-day work weeks and tireless work ethic definitely molded me to who I am today. If it wasn’t for them and their examples, my sisters and I would not be where we are today. How they provided for us given how they started, makes any struggles I’ve gone through pale in comparison.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about being an immigration attorney?
Cuic: There is no better feeling as an immigration attorney then receiving a simple thank you for your efforts. From defending someone from deportation in immigration court to reuniting a family that has been separated for years, our work truly affects people’s lives on a fundamental level. Our practice is high volume so to take a step back and see this aspect of our practice really puts our work into perspective. I believe what we do has such a great impact on our clients and their families. A simple gesture, as simple as a thank you, really puts the magnitude of what we do into perspective.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm? Tell us about your role there.
Cuic: In law school, I decided I wanted to practice immigration law and Robert Brown LLC gave me that opportunity. The atmosphere of open dialogue, togetherness and hardworking employees was there at the get go. When I first started we were much smaller than we are today so I love that we’ve grown so much over my 10 years to now having four offices. That said, even with our growth, the atmosphere I first encountered has not changed. Today, I am a partner and along with day to day functions, I oversee our firm’s litigation practice, focusing largely on removal and deportation defense matters.
AALM: How would you describe the culture of the firm?
Cuic: The culture at Robert Brown LLC is probably best described as organized chaos that works very well. Our practice area is high volume, constantly changing all the while being extremely interesting. No two work days are alike, which requires our entire staff to be highly focused and innovative when helping our clients. Even with such a demanding practice, the work is tremendously rewarding and our success is a testament to how well the firm operates down to an individual level. There are essentially three areas of immigration law – employment, family and removal defense – and our attorneys practice in all these areas. Yet, we crisscross our specializations which give our clients the benefit of having full coverage in terms of understanding the many nuances and issues present as each of the three areas overlap. We have a very open-door culture and you constantly see the attorneys dissecting issues and developing creative solutions within our own office. We enjoy the challenge of finding innovative ways to do things.
AALM: Tell us about your fellow attorneys at the firm? How do you work together?
Cuic: I know it sounds cliché but the attorneys, and in fact our entire staff, are a like a family unit. The attorneys are relatively young (or so we think we are) and so we’ve really grown up together like siblings. We’ve all been shaped by our diverse backgrounds and experiences, so our collective strengths have helped us build something we’re extremely proud of. Our managing partner Bob (who feels young) has created a culture where this growth is possible. He really left us to our own devices and trusted us and I think that is why we are all so loyal to each other and the firm. There is no competitive nature amongst the attorneys as we all share the same goal of continuing to grow the practice and provide our clients with the best possible representation we can. We all work well together and bounce ideas off each other always. Whether it be an attorney in Orlando or Raleigh, we are still in constant communication in one form or another and it somehow just works.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
Cuic: On a personal level, nothing is better than being married to my wife and being the father of our two kids. I work long hours so sometimes my wife has to be mom and dad and I could not be more grateful for her. She gave up her job, which she loved, to raise our kids. Without her sacrifices, I couldn’t grow as an attorney, practitioner or person. Watching our kids grow up, learn to read, go to school, play sports makes all the effort worth it. On a professional level, there have been so many good times it is hard to pick one. Our practice area is on such a personal level, that having a positive result for a client, some of whom have escaped horrible conditions in their homeland, and seeing them happy and protected is overwhelming. I will say, I once had a client name a child after me which is pretty humbling.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Cuic: I’ve been described as a workaholic so that leaves me with little time for extracurricular activities. That said, I’m an avid sports fan especially with respect to the Browns and Cavs so I’ll watch or attend games when I can. Having two young children involved with a variety of activities, my wife and I are always on the move attending those games and events which are a blast. I am an adjunct professor at Case Western University’s School of Law which I love doing as well. It gets me out of the office and gives me another perspective on what we do as immigration attorneys. I love to read as well. Given my father’s background as a butcher, I’ve somewhat followed in his footsteps and love charcuterie which is to smoke and cure meats. Admittedly, I’m not anywhere to his level. What he does is truly an art form while I’m slightly past a finger-painting level.
AALM: What events are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
Cuic: With immigration such a hot topic, I am looking forward to seeing what happens now. Essentially, our nation’s immigration law hasn’t changed much since 1996. Everyone seems to agree that the system is broken or on the verge of collapse. So, the question remains, how will it be fixed? Will there, or won’t there be an amnesty program or something similar? Will Congress update and change our current immigration law is a huge question with nationwide impact. The Supreme Court and has taken several immigration related cases over the past year and how the courts on all levels continue to dissect this area of law is going to be fascinating to watch. It is an exciting time to practice in our field.