Muncy native opens law firm on Main Street
MUNCY – Kristen Schneck has worked hard for her degree in law. With honors she completed her International and Comparative Law Certificate Program and a Civil Law Certificate Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in December 2003. Her continued course studies in Russian, Latin American and Eastern European Studies have led Schneck to open her own law offices as a Solo Immigration Practitioner. She decided to come back to Muncy, although home is now in Pittsburgh, to serve many of her clients that need help closer to the Eastern region. “Immigration is such a specialized area of law. Most attorneys will refer cases to immigration specialists rather than attempt to represent clients in that area themselves,” states Scheck who wanted to have a known presence in her home town. Being in Muncy allows her to serve clients from east and west from State College area to Scranton, and north and south from Corning area to York and Carlisle.
On the morning of December 17, 2012, a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce officially opened the Law Offices of Kristen A. Schneck, LLC, Immigration and Naturalization Law at 31 S. Main Street, Muncy, Pennsylvania.
A 1995 graduate of Muncy High School, Kristen is very familiar with the area. She is the daughter of William and Diane Schneck. She grew up in the business world for her father is owner of Hulsizer’s Chevrolet in Montgomery and has currently served on Muncy’s school board for the past 20 years. “My parents raised three children here and they are very active in the community,” said Kristen who began her career in Latin American Studies. She said she worked for about a year for the Organization for American States in Washington DC which influenced her career greatly. “I always had an interest in politics and foreign affairs,” she said as she related her studies abroad in Ecuador for one semester.
She continued her education another semester at the University of Guanajuato School of Law in Mexico where she became fluent in speaking Spanish. One of her most memorable experiences was when she served as law clerk for the Supreme Court Justice of the State Supreme Court of Guan in 2001. She learned both sides of the court system, Mexico’s and the United States.
Kristen claims her love of foreign cultures and desire to assist others while utilizing her skills in the languages became integral parts for her decision to become a lawyer and specialize in International Law. Scholarships have kept her studying abroad gaining specialization and certifications in International and Immigration Law. Before opening her own business, Schneck worked as a Senior Associate Immigration Attorney for a major law firm, Goldstein & Associates, LLC, in Pittsburgh where she gained extensive experience representing clients in district and federal court. “My area of concentration is employment immigration,” comments Schneck for she settled several litigation cases in federal court and became the firm’s specialist in immigration.
While in grad school, Kristen met her husband, Atul Bhandari, a native and immigrant from India who later became a naturalized citizen and a technology specialist. They share a son, and for the past 9 years have lived in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Bhandari says he is very supportive of his wife’s career and acknowledged approvingly her specialization as a female attorney and a woman business owner. “Clients can come to her from all over the United States,” he said. “Worldwide, there are so many people who want to come here for education and to work. The process is lengthy and complex,” he added.
In Pittsburgh, Kristen shares her business with another lawyer, Christy Cosentino. The women are fluent in speaking Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi and French and specialize in family based immigration law, employment based immigration law, removal and deportation defense law, and asylum and immigration appeals. Schneck said she is currently handling a case in Lycoming County and focuses on the needs of those less advantaged. Her goal is to offer affordable immigration legal services and representation. “The gas industry has also brought a huge need for immigration assistance,” said Schneck. “Because they have employment opportunities, many of the energy companies are bringing more people in the area with diverse backgrounds.” She also explained that the harder the economic downturn, the more willing people are to relocate from longer distances for employment. The majority of her cases are for green cards, fiancee visas and citizenship. Many are students and highly skilled professionals.
“I also want to expand here to offer services to the hospitals and health care network in this area,” she explained, “so companies can hire legally when there is a shortage or unavailability of workers to fill their needs.” Schneck plans on being in the Muncy location every other week. She said she has been addressing cases here since last August. She also taught a continuing ed course to local attorneys last October on the immigration laws, and was sworn into federal court in Williamsport for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in February 2012. “I have a good niche here,” she concluded. Scneck can be reached at 570-360-5220 or visit her website at www.schneckimmigrationlaw.com.