Over the course of the summer, we will present some first-person accounts from Berkeley Law students immersed in fascinating work across the legal landscape. Much like the students themselves, the job opportunities and practical experiences they receive are diverse and extraordinary.
George Abunaw ’24 is a law school representative for UC Berkeley’s Graduate Assembly, the Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law’s social media editor, public relations chair at Law Students of African Descent, and a member of the Berkeley Sports and Entertainment Law Society and the Cal men’s club soccer team. A 2021 Boston University graduate and captain of its Division 1 soccer team, he has been a sports anchor and analyst on the school’s TV station, a soccer commentator on the Patriot League Network, and a sports media intern for companies based in Australia, Canada, and the United States.
Below, Abunaw discusses the work he’s now doing as a summer associate at Maiorova Law:
I grew up with a ball at my feet. While I was in elementary school, my mother was a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut. Every weekend, I would make the short trip down the road to watch the UConn Huskies men’s soccer team in action.
These student-athletes quickly became my heroes, so before I knew what the word recruitment meant or what a GPA was, playing Division I soccer while furthering my education became a life goal. I was lucky enough to achieve this and enjoyed being a student just as much as I did an athlete.
Then, during the spring semester of my junior year, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, which led to a lockdown. As a result, I had the luxury of time to reflect on what I wanted to do after my undergraduate degree.
I decided to attend law school because I realized a JD degree would enable me to leverage my academic and athletic backgrounds in a symbiotic way. I have been able to do just that during my brief time as a summer associate at Maiorova Law.
Founded by Berkeley Law alum and award-winning immigration attorney Ksenia Maiorova ’07, Maiorova Law is an Orlando-based firm that focuses on sports immigration law. Primarily working with athletes and coaches, as well as others that qualify for talent-based visas, the firm helps file complex petitions for these individuals to obtain the correct visas to be able to train and compete in the United States long term.
As soon as I started my position, I became part of the team in several cases handled by the firm. My work has included:
- Interpreting immigration statutes and regulations
- Analyzing sports statistics
- Conducting legal research
- Writing memoranda and briefs
- Drafting “extraordinary ability petitions” for the firm’s clients
Every application is different, depending on the specific visa the athlete is applying for. The requirements are many, and every detail counts toward satisfying them. What’s paramount is showcasing the accomplishments of the athletes that put them among the best in their sport, while supporting the statistics and data presented with proper explanations of how they fit the stated regulations.
My work so far has enabled me to see what happens legally before foreign athletes can establish the United States as their home base. Some of the cases I have seen firsthand involve Olympic champions and medalists, world championship winners and medalists, European champions, and National Collegiate Athletic Association champions. Having met some of these athletes both during virtual consultation meetings and in person at a track meet the firm helped sponsor, their reverence for the firm’s work is evident.
As a lover of sports and a former collegiate athlete who is now a law student, it has been incredible to experience sports from a legal perspective. More importantly, I feel privileged to have this opportunity to put into practice what I learned in my first year at Berkeley Law. Above all, I am discovering that the legal profession has depth, with a wide range of opportunities to suit diverse interests.