Ann Robertson: Loyalty, Longevity & Levity

You notice it says ‘survivor,’ not ‘victim,’” said Raleigh immigration attorney Ann Robertson about the sweatshirts her staff donned for our photo shoot. They read, “Immigrants & Survivors & Refugees & Dreamers.”

Since starting Robertson Immigration Law Firm in 1992, she has represented immigrants who may think of themselves as “victims” seeking to become “survivors” by successfully extending or acquiring their legal right to live in the United States. Many of them may be fleeing to the U.S. from brutal regimes in their home countries or they may be well-educated professionals seeking to navigate a complicated immigration system. Robertson Immigration Law Firm handles a full spectrum of representation for immigrants, their families, and companies with employees from foreign countries.

“The terms ‘loyalty and longevity’ refer to my wonderful clients,” said Robertson. “It is such a joy to represent generations of clients and their families and the employers who continue to sponsor immigrants who are reliable, hard-working and loyal employees.”

Her current clients keep her very busy. “I purposely shut down my website,” said Robertson. “Almost all my clients now are either current clients, family members of current clients, or referrals from current and former clients and from attorneys. I have come to develop close, meaningful relationships with my clients because of the nature of immigration law which allows me to get to know them beyond just their specific legal needs and to connect in such touching and beautiful ways with them. I don’t need a website now to be busy every day and to continue to serve immigrants all over the United States and the world.”

I love practicing law this way. I’ve been an immigration attorney for over 30 years, and I have clients today whom I have represented for 25 years or more

“I love practicing law this way. I’ve been an immigration attorney for over 30 years, and I have clients today whom I have represented for 25 years or more,” said Robertson.

One of her favorite long-term clients is Carolina Ballet. “Twenty-five years ago, Carolina Ballet began with seven male dancers who were immigrants, and five of them needed visas,” recalled Robertson. “The Artistic Director Robert Weiss found them and they were recruited to come to Carolina Ballet. As their attorney in 1998, I was excited to see this amazing ballet company begin. And now it is exciting to see how Carolina Ballet has grown and thrives.”

Robertson has prepared applications for Carolina Ballet dancers from Armenia, Canada, China, Cuba, Hungary, Spain, Uruguay, and Russia. She is now helping the ballet to bring immigrant students to The School of Carolina Ballet.

The Mexican Connection

When the Mexican government opened a Consulate in Raleigh in 2000 to serve North Carolina and South Carolina, Robertson contacted them immediately. She was named a consulting attorney by the Mexican government. “I have now been working for that Consulate for 23 years, providing pro bono immigration consultations and helping to promote our Consulate with North Carolina leaders and elected officials. My long-term relationship with the Mexican Consulate is another example of the value of ‘loyalty and longevity.’”

Unfortunately, she sometimes must deliver bad news to potential clients from Mexico and other countries who are in the U.S. hoping to acquire a particular type of lawful immigration status. This includes people who came here on certain types of visas which require them to return to their home countries.

“It’s disheartening how much of my time I spend telling people that the current immigration law does not provide any options for them. For example, a Ph.D. researcher in the U.S. on a J-1 visa which was funded by a Fulbright scholarship may be required to return to his or her home country for two years, even if that person is on the brink of a groundbreaking cure for some devastating disease,” explained Robertson.


It’s disheartening how much of my time I spend telling people that the current immigration law does not provide any options for them.

‘I Was Hooked’

Ann Robertson’s early career goals never included being one of the first five immigration lawyers in Raleigh, and the second lawyer in Raleigh to be certified as a board-certified specialist in immigration law after that specialty was created in 2007.

Her goal was to become a French professor.

She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in French, and she also earned a master’s degree in French. She particularly enjoyed earning a Certificat d’Etudes from the University of Poitiers in La Rochelle, France. She taught French at UNC-Greensboro and High Point University. But when there weren’t many full-time professor opportunities, she shifted her goal to a career in college and university administration. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Duke University, a program championed by President Terry Sanford. Then she earned a Juris Doctor from UNC to “add a feather to my cap” in her aspiration to someday become the president of a major college or university.

But Robertson was disturbed to learn that raising money, at which she is a whiz, was the core responsibility of a college president. It was not intellectual pursuits, working with faculty and charting the academic path, as she had hoped it would be.

Robertson came to Raleigh after law school to clerk at the Court of Appeals for the Honorable John B. Lewis, Jr. During that time, she heard of immigrants in Raleigh from the country of Zaire who needed to talk to a lawyer, but they only spoke French and their native African languages. She discovered that they needed to apply for asylum.

“That’s it. That’s the story. I was hooked!” said Robertson who began her immigration practice in 1992.

She applied lessons that she had learned from her father, Dr. Leon Robertson, who was a family doctor in Rocky Mount for 60 years.

“He was such an inspiration,” said Robertson. “He would deliver a baby and then be that baby’s doctor for the next 60 years. He said that he enjoyed his work so much that he didn’t want to stop practicing medicine. I feel that same enthusiasm for my work because I get to know my clients so well, and I know their families and their friends, and their life stories. My father said to me that he learned during his 60 years of practice that the best way he could be a good physician was to love his patients.

“I wish to follow in the footsteps of my father,” she added, “to love my clients and to help them and their families for a very long time, creating a bond that is truly meaningful.”


Loyalty and Longevity

Back Row: Luz Frye, Dora Reed, Lei-Fah Shafer, Ann Robertson, Maritza Pearce and Andrew Bruch. Front Row: Carole Falcones, Jennifer Serrano, Mitchell Faison and Michelle Ortiz Martinez.

Robertson has had a very stable team at her firm, some of whom have worked for Robertson Immigration Law Firm for 9 to 20 years or more. Visiting the firm’s office, one gets the sense that the staff is a direct reflection of her Zen. She has a warm, sincere, and trusting smile and nature. When she talks to you, she makes you feel like you are the most interesting and important person in her world.

“One of the most important reasons our clients are loyal is because of my fabulous staff. Interaction with clients is something they really treasure. My clients connect with my paralegals because of their loyalty to the law firm and their longevity. The clients are deeply grateful for the relationships that they can develop with my staff.”

Robertson’s first receptionist was Hans Linnartz, a lawyer who had been living in Indonesia; he went to work for her while he waited for the State Bar to reactivate his law license. Their relationship evolved from employment, to being fellows in immigration law, to friendship and then romance. They got married in 2001. Through Linnartz, Robertson has five stepchildren, two daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Be It Ever So Humble

Robertson Immigration Law Firm practices out of a house built in 1895. She shares the space with Linnartz, who has his own immigration law practice. It is in the Blount Street Historic District of Raleigh.

Robertson and Linnartz live in the Historic Oakwood neighborhood on the edge of downtown Raleigh, where you take your out-of-town guests to gawk at the Mid-Victorian, Queen Anne, Neoclassical Revival, and Craftsman homes.

Their home is the elegant Thompson-Anderson-Allen-Robertson House, 516 East Jones Street, built in 1851, the oldest private home in Raleigh on its original foundation.

On display around the house are puppets and marionettes acquired during their trips to Burma and France and to Java and Bali in Indonesia. “Puppets and marionettes show up in very diverse cultural settings all over the world and the craftsmanship of each one is exquisite. Performances with these lovely pieces of art require great manual dexterity and dramatic talent,” said Robertson.

The house seems like a place where you keep your elbows tucked in and your hands in your pocket for fear of breaking something. Robertson has no such worries as her only aim is to welcome anybody and everybody to her home, graciously. For example, she invited me to “Look around.  Go upstairs. Bring your wife back for a tour.” Everywhere you look in their house is something she and Linnartz have chosen, often on a trip abroad, or it is a family piece they treasure. The home is a regular stop on Oakwood’s annual Candlelight Tour. Robertson is this year’s reigning Imperial Empress of the Oakwood Historic District.

She said the neighborhood is really about the people, not just the houses. “It’s the most wonderful neighborhood in the world. We’re just an incredibly supportive community. Residents sit outside on their huge porches, warmly greeting anyone who passes by. We love to eat outside. The neighborhood hosts parties on the last Sunday of every month. We have a festive, costumed Mardi Gras celebration, a Garden Tour, a huge July 4th celebration, and the Candlelight Tour in December.”

Let’s Dance​

Anywhere there is music and a dance floor, you are likely to find the couple tripping the light fantastic.

“I love to dance,” said Robertson. “There is a joke: when I was born, I came out on the delivery table dancing the ‘shag’ to ‘beach music.’ It’s a dance that I have enjoyed all my life. I love any type of dance, including two-step, Irish step dancing, and salsa.”

When she married Linnartz, she asked him to learn to “shag.” For almost 20 years, they have been taking lessons from Don Bunn who is in the Shaggers Hall of Fame. They have no interest in competitions. “We just do it for fun,” said Robertson, “It’s a good couples thing that we can enjoy together. There are not a whole lot of things where you can get a lot of good exercise as a couple and have fun, too.”

Robertson and Linnhartz at the 2022 Wake County Bar Association holiday party.

Travels with Ann and Hans​

Robertson and Linnartz at a Buddhist shrine, the Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia, originally built as a Hindu shrine in the 12th century. It is located near the city of Siem Reap.

Robertson said traveling with Linnartz is a source of levity in her life. She has been to 24 countries and territories and lived in Brazil and France. The couple makes a point of staying off the tourist-beaten trails. They take turns picking the destination of their annual trips. This year they will be going to Peru.

Robertson’s favorite destination is obviously France. Linnartz lived in Indonesia for five years and has a special interest in Asian countries. On the top of the firm’s conference room table is a huge weaving of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which they visited in 2010. A massive wall map of the world reflects off the glass on that table.

“When we travel, we want to interact with the people and get to know them. And what I’ve learned is people all over the world are wonderful. They love having a chance to talk to us … just the warmth and the genuine caring about basic things about life are true everywhere,” said Robertson.

“My clients light up when I say, ‘I’ve been to your country.’ We have so much fun talking about what’s important to them, and we can discuss their food and culture. This deepens the personal bond that I value between my clients and me.”

At a Glance

Robertson Immigration Law Firm
501 North Blount Street
Raleigh, NC 27604
[email protected]
(919) 834-7004

Practice Areas


Professional Honors

Professional Involvement