Lisa Shea (formerly Lisa Johnson-Firth) is the Managing Partner of Immigrants First, PLLC, which she founded in 2007 at the start of rigorous immigration enforcement in Prince William County and Manassas, Virginia. Prince William County had just passed regulations allowing the police to racially profile immigrants and turn them over to immigration and customs enforcement (ICE). Lisa became an outspoken advocate to protect the constitutional rights of immigrants by conducting Know Your Rights seminars to thousands of immigrants; testifying before human and civil rights commissions; and advocating for more constitutional policies before the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. From its inception, Immigrants First, PLLC was about zealously protecting the rights of immigrants and providing excellent legal representation. Lisa has personally won hundreds of cases concerning many areas of immigration: waivers, asylum, cancellation of removal, bond, Violence Against Women Act petitions, U and T visas, TPS, DACA, adjustment of status, naturalization and many more.
When she was ten years old, Lisa knew she wanted to be a lawyer and work to preserve justice, freedom and equality for all persons. After completing her undergraduate degree in the United States at Allegheny College, she moved to England and obtained a law degree from the University of Sheffield School of Law. After attending school and working in England, she returned to the United States and obtained her juris doctorate at Northeastern University School of Law and began her U.S. law career at large law firms as an international corporate and intellectual property associate.
During her years of practicing corporate law, Lisa engaged in representing pro bono immigration cases. And, in 2001, after winning a novel asylum case for a young mother from Turkey who was horribly abused by her husband and faced death if she was deported, she decided she wanted to work full-time in immigration. Lisa moved to Washington, D.C. to work at the Institute for Policy Studies where she helped found a program working with victims of human trafficking. She was one of the first lawyers to work on T visas and wrote a national protocol on how to represent immigration cases for trafficking victims. She then became the Director of Legal Services at Tahirih Justice, an organization focusing on immigration relief for women suffering grave human rights abuses.
For five years Lisa was an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center on immigrant women's rights. She has been an adjunct professor of immigration law at George Mason University and an adjunct professor of international human rights at Randolph-Macon College. She is a frequent speaker and trainer and on immigration law, constitutional law, women's issues, international human rights, and human trafficking.
From her experience being an immigration lawyer, Lisa became aware that many of her clients have suffered significant physical and mental trauma. As a result of this exposure, and desiring to work with clients in a more holistic way, she trained in trauma-based client care, mediation, energy healing, and shamanic practices. Her great awareness of the larger picture of a person’s life and understanding the impact of trauma helps her develop open relationships with clients that facilitate winning cases.
- Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communications
- University of Sheffield School of Law, England, Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)
- Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA, Juris Doctorate (J.D.)
- Georgetown University Certificate Program in Nonprofit Management
Bar Admissions and Associations
- Washington, D.C.
- England and Wales
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
- Virginia Women Attorneys Association
- Prince William County Bar
Awards and Publications
- Hot off the Press: Lisa Shea’s Immigration Law Essentials for Virginia Practitioners published by the Virginia Bar 2021
- Immigration Primer in process of being published by Virginia Bar Association Publications, 2020.
- Article: “Holistic Lawyering,” Federal Bar, Immigration Section, Greencard, Summer 2015.
- Article: “State and Local Enforcement of Immigration Law and Community Responses to Find a Better Way,” AILA, Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook, 2009-2010, p. 1115.
- Wrote chapter on Legalities of Processing T Visas for Freedom Network’s Human Trafficking Training Manual, 2002
- Justicia Award 2015 – Awarded to a Female Lawyer Progressing the Rights and Status of Women, Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Prince William Chapter.
- Special Recognition Award 2012 by Unitarian Universalists National Capital Region Committee on Social Justice for work on capital region immigration issues.
- Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Member
Virginia State-wide Board Member
Prince William County Chapter, Member
Prince William County Chapter, President, 2015-2016
- Prince William County Bar Association, Member and Entertainment Committee Co-Chair
- BEACON, an ESL learning program, Manassas, VA, Advisor and Former Board Member
- Democratic Immigrant Caucus, Prince William County, Member
- Centreville Labor Resource Center, Centreville, VA, Board Member
- Prevention Committee of the Greater Prince William Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Council, Prince William County, VA, Member, 2006 - present
- Columnist on immigration issues for El Imparcial Newspaper, Manassas, VA, March 2011-2013
- AILA Ice Liaison Committee, Washington Field Office, Virginia, Former Member
- Acts/Turning Points, Domestic Violence, Prince William County, VA, Board Member 2013-2014
- Unity in the Community, Prince William County, VA, Executive Board Member and Immigration Issues Advisor (2008-2012)
- Prince William Leadership, Prince William County, VA, Class of 2009
- Amnesty International Stop Violence Against Women, Campaign Coordinator for VA, Washington, D.C., 2004-2008
Thank You Letter from the Executive Director of Beacon, an ESL Program Run by Benedictine Sisters:
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for serving on the BEACON Board. We are so fortunate to have someone as passionate and dedicated to the immigrants in our community as you are. Thank you for always being willing to present to students on their rights and general immigration process. And, thank you for your guidance on how to handle our role in the current client/respond to one of the church’s concerns. I really appreciate having an immigration expert that I can turn to when I have questions and can help educate the board.
I also wanted to thank you for your visionary thinking/questions during our strategic planning. You really helped to push me to dream big for our program, which is so valuable. Thank you for the many years you have committed to BEACON and for propelling us towards growth.
Chair of the Democratic Immigrant Caucus, Prince William County
Thank you for meeting with us yesterday. You gave us important information so we can go forward with launching the Democratic Immigrant Caucus.