Among his many professional affiliations and recognitions, Bill was a long-time member of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, where he was highly respected and beloved.
William Reich, “Bill” to his friends, began life as the child of Holocaust survivors. He was born in Tel Aviv on October 5, 1947, about seven months before the State of Israel was established in May 1948. In 1956, at age nine, he and his family emigrated to Guatemala. Two years later, speaking only Spanish and Hebrew, they made their way to New York City and began a life as recent immigrants.
In the beginning, Bill’s knowledge about his new country came mostly from the movies, but he quickly learned its language and customs. As so many immigrant children do, he helped his parents navigate the complexities of life in a bustling American city. Growing up in the boroughs, wearing second-hand clothing, and becoming aware of his parents’ immense sacrifices to ensure his and his sister’s success in their chosen land, Bill developed a lifelong appreciation for immigrants. He understood and empathized with their struggles, and he counted himself fortunate to be a part of their ongoing journeys.
At age 17, in 1964, Bill became a U.S. citizen. After graduating from Queens College, he left the big city and attended law school in Buffalo, a place he came to love and never left. In 1974, he joined the Buffalo law firm that would come to be known as Serotte Reich, where he began his career practicing criminal law and litigation. But his passion for immigrants prevailed, and soon he introduced his firm to the growing and dynamic field of immigration law. Four decades later, Bill had become recognized as one of our nation’s top legal strategists in immigration law, particularly when solving complicated and challenging waiver and border cases. Many immigration lawyers across the United States sent their toughest cases to Bill to resolve. While never offering guarantees, he turned immigration disasters into successes, allowing foreign students to fulfill their dreams and finish school, helping separated families to be reunited, and transforming many near tragedies into cases with miraculous endings. Bill sought out and relied on the good graces of fair and kind adjudicators, and found discretion in places where everyone else had given up hope. As one close colleague recently said, “If any lawyer could fit a square peg in a round hole, it was Bill.”
Bill was generous with his knowledge, frequently mentoring other lawyers, speaking at regional and national conferences hosted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and other groups, giving numerous media interviews, and publishing many articles dealing with the trans-border movement of business personnel under the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as unique immigration issues faced by border practitioners. Among his many professional affiliations and recognitions, Bill was a long-time member of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, where he was highly respected and beloved.
As well as being a brilliant and passionate immigration lawyer, Bill was a deeply honest, genuine, and kind person. He was ethical and considerate and he inspired his colleagues to be both good lawyers and good human beings. His zest for life was evident to all who knew him. He drew upon the challenges he and his family faced as new arrivals to this country and embodied the indomitable immigrant spirit. Bill’s was the ultimate success story, as he committed himself to fighting for the rights of those immigrants and refugees who followed in his family’s footsteps. He was a giant in his field who lifted up many others. He will be deeply missed.
Rest in peace, Bill and Shlomo!