Everyone takes for granted how easy it is to board a plane and travel the world with just a passport. It is very different for those seeking either protection, to work or to reunite with family in the United Staes. Byzantine agencies manage the legal labyrinth a person must navigate. Practicing immigration law feels like Dorothy in the proverbial political tornado. Such a challenge requires a fully committed attorney. Cassondre Buteyn is such an attorney. Her 20 years of experience and gift for languages galvanized her ability to connect to clients empathetically. She practices from the heart to advocate ardently for the voiceless.
Buteyn believes passionately that lawyers are meant to do honorable things. This means advocating for those who often cannot advocate for themselves, exercising patience with individuals who do not comprehend their legal problem, and ensuring that the government respects the right to a fair adjudication. She focuses her time on reuniting families, naturalizing individuals with disabilities or learning impairments, and protections for victims of significant crimes, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
Buteyn’s mission to serve is rooted in her faith. She believes that she needs to practice what her faith preaches because what a person does is the true measure of faith. The responsibility owed to another in need is Buteyn’s prism. Buteyn entered law school knowing immigration law was her calling. The magnetism of serving others while seeing the world through the lives of others compelled her to consider a career in the law.
“I grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin where the most diversity I was ever exposed to was a student with a German heritage rather than Dutch,” she says with an ironic smile. “I found a taste for diversity after moving to Minnesota. It was then that I realized how important languages skills are in helping to communicate and really connect with people. I loved it.
“Working with international students during college put me on the path of immigration law,” Buteyn adds. “In my career today, I travel the world without leaving my office.”
Buteyn craved to embrace more of the world. Now conversant in three languages – English, Spanish and French, Buteyn builds a rapport that transcends mere legal representation. Her ability to communicate in their native tongue ensures her clients feel heard and understood.
“It allows us to build this lovely relationship because people feel they can trust me; there’s not someone in the middle translating everything we say. We communicate face to face, word for word, understanding one another, and I think that’s important to our clients.”
Deep Roots, Unbreakable Ties
A true legal luminary, Buteyn’s impressive career is irrevocably tied to the only legal “home” she’s ever known. Coming to Wilson Law Group even before embarking on her law school journey, she began as an assistant.
“I’ve worked with David Wilson my whole life,” she says. “I actually began with him even before I had decided on law school. He was so great at mentoring me; he took me everywhere so I could really see what this career would be like. Needless to say, I loved everything about being an attorney and specifically one who specializes in immigration law.”
Buteyn was not only enthralled with the sneak peek at what her future career would entail, it helped her shape the firm that has offered so much support and encouragement. She now is passing along the lessons she learned. Buteyn’s career not only blossomed under Wilson’s tutelage, but the two further entwined their lives by marrying and raising a family as diverse as their backgrounds. They have two biological children and adopted two teenagers who desperately needed love and an adult to intervene.
“Shortly after we married, David and I adopted our oldest daughter, and in 2020 we adopted our second,” she explains. “We recognize that young girls can be in a more dangerous situation if they lack a healthy support system. Our daughters needed adults just as much as they needed lawyers. Thankfully we were able to help them establish status while adding loving daughters who have made our lives even better.”
“It’s a very unusual situation,” Buteyn acknowledges with a laugh. “One of the girls is only nine years younger than I am. In fact, I recently became a grandma! We are one interesting family photo. It’s just a matter of embracing what capacity a person has to help and committing to it. The reward is worth the effort. I love watching them flourish.”
Buteyn’s years of achievement enables her to give her team the same support and mentoring she received. The two female attorneys on Buteyn’s team – Andra Garcia and Lee Anne Mills – are also highly motivated and passionate advocates.
Mills, like Buteyn, joined Wilson Law Group as a legal assistant, worked with the firm throughout law school, and then used her foundation to hit the ground running right after law school.
“I studied Spanish in high school and college and really love the language,” says Mills. “It was kind of a natural fit to pursue immigration law based on my experiences here as a legal assistant. I saw the great work they were accomplishing here and wanted to be a part of that.”
Garcia’s attraction to immigration law was born from firsthand experience with her family. “For me, being able to use my Spanish was also a big draw,” she says. “My dad is originally from Mexico, and many people in my family are immigrants, so to be able to serve in that same community was something that drew me to this area of the law.”
By its very nature immigration law can be challenging and emotionally taxing as each of these women can attest. Because of the vulnerability of their clients and their situations, these women believe it is essential to be fully transparent, even when having to tell someone that there are no options.
“It’s very important at Wilson Law Group that we’re painfully candid with people,” says Buteyn. “We do not hesitate to tell someone the harsh truth that the law may not work for them and there is nothing we can do. We will decline cases where a potential client is clearly not eligible for a benefit. The community knows they can trust our advice. On the other hand, we are not shy about pushing for a better interpretation of the law. We will pursue it wholeheartedly. People really value someone who takes the time to speak with them in clear terms and often in a language they understand. Patience is so important to what we do. It is key to garnering trust through the legal process. Sadly, there are those who peddle hope for dollars when it is obviously unrealistic. It’s cruel and we’ve kind of made it one of our missions to combat that.”
“It’s true that there are certain cases in which, unfortunately, the law is probably against us,” Mills says. “We are open from the very beginning explaining that there might be negative factors that the judge will have to consider, and based on what we’ve seen and what we know of the law, there’s a strong likelihood that they could lose. In those instances, we try to at least talk them through the process, so they’ll know what to expect. And, as heart wrenching as those cases can be, I’ve still had clients thank me for fighting for them and preparing them for what’s to come.”
Having a strong, tight-knit group of colleagues makes these emotionally charged situations a little easier to handle.
“I feel fortunate to be a part of this team of incredible professionals who are not only great attorneys, passionate about their work, but who are also always there to help and support you,” says Garcia. “Everyone gets along so well, and we have great leadership. Cassondre truly abides by an open-door policy, she’s always available no matter how big or small my question or situation might be.”
In a world in which immigration is a political quagmire, attorneys like Buteyn, Garcia and Mills remind us of the profound impact that legal professionals can have. Rigorously upholding the values that Buteyn has forged into Wilson Law Group’s spirit, this team of skilled professionals will continue to be the voice for those in need of one.