Melanie Shapiro is an experienced and award-winning lawyer in Massachusetts. She works with clients from all over the U.S. and internationally to help them achieve their goals– family reunification, being safe from harm, and building a life in the United States. It has been an honor for her to develop relationships with her clients, earn their trust, and be a part of their journeys. Her ultimate goal is to see her clients succeed in their lives.
Her firm’s slogan is “holistic, compassionate lawyering” and she looks to help her clients with not just their cases, but any other issues that might arise. While her practice largely focuses on immigration law, she looks at the whole person “treats” ancillary legal issues, and connects clients with other services. For example, Melanie assists clients with family or criminal law issues, and as a real estate broker, helps them to find and sell houses. When her clients disclose that they are in a domestic violence situation, she is the first to bring them to the police and assist them in obtaining restraining orders and coordinating support services such as mental health treatment and information about housing, domestic violence shelters, and counseling.
Melanie’s immigration practice focuses on removal defense, asylum, family petitions, naturalization, special immigration juvenile status, VAWA, U & T visas, appeals, and federal litigation. Melanie enjoys untangling complicated cases and works creatively to offer solutions to her clients. She is an experienced litigator in the U.S. Federal District Courts and the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. She never shies away from difficult cases or from whatever actions are necessary to fight for her clients, including suing the government or appealing cases.
She is also experienced in criminal law and understands, from both perspectives the relationship between criminal and immigration law. For her criminal defendants, she uses her immigration law knowledge to protect them from immigration repercussions when considering strategies in criminal courts, such as plea deals, terms of probation, and amending charges. From the immigration perspective, Melanie has won appeals regarding how Immigration Judges interpret criminal charges, notably what documents judges are permitted to review, and eligibility for certain visas.
Melanie also is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Roger Williams University School of Law where she teaches courses on representing survivors of domestic violence, federal litigation and appeals, and starting a law practice.
She enjoys giving back to the community through teaching, mentoring students and new lawyers, and interns throughout the year, and hosting workshops and trainings. She has published several papers and articles on immigration and human rights issues. During the summer, she welcomes a robust group of interns from the high school to the law school level. She has been a mentor and partner with the Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice and The Education Cooperative.
Melanie graduated from Roger Williams University School of Law where she was a Public Interest Scholar and received recognition for her work in the immigration clinic. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island, where she was in the Honors Program, and graduated summa cum laude.
Melanie has been licensed to practice law since 2012. She is admitted in Massachusetts, the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the First and Fifth Circuits.
She is the co-chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) New England Litigation Committee, a former Board member of the Dedham Art Associate, and a founding member of AILA New England’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee. In 2009, she founded Citizens Against Trafficking to combat human trafficking. In 2022, she founded the non-profit, Seeking Security and Freedom.
She regularly speaks on immigration issues through her bar association, in the community, in the media, and through social media where she hosts live question-and-answer sessions.
Melanie loves meeting new people and learning about different cultures. She is proud to represent clients from 80 countries, and counting. She is fluent in Spanish and enjoys being able to connect directly with her Spanish-speaking clients in their native language. She is also learning Portuguese. While Melanie was born in the United States, her mother’s family came from Italy, and her father’s from Eastern Europe. She currently has family in Italy, Norway, El Salvador, Spain, and Serbia.
Outside of the office, Melanie enjoys spending time with her partner and daughter, painting, hiking with her dog, playing music, and doing anything outdoors.
As an artist, she is inspired by her clients. You can see many of her pieces throughout the office and on her website. https://www.melanieshapiroart.com/
- 2018-2023– Rising Star, Super Lawyers
- 2015– Pro Bono Star, American Immigration Lawyers Association
- 2009- Mother Jones Award
- 2009- Academic Excellence Award
Selected Speaking Engagements:
2023- American Immigration Lawyers Association New England Conference, “All Thing Humanitarian: Nuggets and Pitfalls in Asylum, VAWA, T, and U Visa Relief.
2022- American Immigration Lawyers Association Rountable: Humanitarian Parole.
2022- American Immigration Lawyers Association, “Alternative Forms of Relief Including T, U, and VAWA.”
2020- Roger Williams University School of Law: “Immigration Practice in the Time of COVID-19.”
2020- Essex County Commission on the Status of Women, “Tapping Legal Resources for Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence.”
2020- Ugandan North America Association, Panel on Immigration
2020- John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lecturer on Immigration
2020- Boston Bar Association, “Best Practices and Avoiding Pitfalls at the Boston Asylum Office.”
2020- American Immigration Lawyers Association, New England Conference, “Public Charge Roudtable.”
2019- Rhode Island Bar Association, “U Visa CLE.”
Melanie Shapiro, Esq. and Donna M. Hughes, Ph.D., Decriminalized Prostitution: Impunity for Violence and Exploitation, 52 Wake Forest L. Rev. 533 (2017)
Melanie Shapiro, Navigating One-Parent SIJS Cases, VOICE, at 19 (2015)
Donna M. Hughes, Ph.D. and Melanie Shapiro, Esq., Challenges for Investigating Sex Trafficking: The Role of Decriminalized Prostitution, 7th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking, U. of Nebraska Lincoln (2015)
November 8, 2023– Attorney Shapiro was interviewed by Channel 12 investigative reporter, Kate Wilkinson about Governor Healey’s response to the migrant crisis in Massachusetts. https://www.wpri.com/target-12/healey-massachusetts-will-reach-migrant-limit-by-thursday/
September 21, 2021– WPRI Channel 12, Local lawyer helps Afghan refugees. https://www.wpri.com/video/local-lawyer-helps-afghan-refugees/6996494/
September 20, 2021, WPRI Channel 12, Feminist refugee fund aims to help Afghan women escape Taliban rule, https://www.wpri.com/news/local-news/feminist-refugee-fund-aims-to-help-afghan-women-escape-taliban-rule/
July 19, 2018- Maria Cramer, Gay Ugandan woman, fearing imprisonment or worse if deported, pleads to stay in the US, Boston Globe (July 19, 2018). https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/07/18/gay-ugandan-woman-fearing-imprisonment-worse-deported-pleads-stay/0swGLsH8dqAQbbxrjZhSlJ/story.html
Samia Chandraker, Employment Based Immigration Consultant
Samia Chandraker is our endorsed employment-based immigration expert we refer our clients to. She has over 20 years of experience in US immigration law as well as experience overseas in UK immigration law. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Massachusetts Bar, Law Society of England & Wales (renewal pending), the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston, and alumni member of the United Nations Leadership Academy.
She has specialized experience in healthcare immigration issues involving hospitals, physicians, nurses and scientists, and has provided assistance to the Massachusetts Medical Society’s International Medical Graduates Section with presentations and publications. She also specializes in immigration assistance for elite level athletes, coaches, and artists.
She is currently Law Student Liaison for the American Immigration Lawyers Association New England Chapter, engaging with the academic community in the region. She also volunteers for the Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, providing advice to residents in Massachusetts.
Samia enjoys creative writing and is currently involved in a number of projects about immigration, including a novel, personal essays, short stories, and a non-fiction book proposal.