BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Local Director
SOPHIE FEAL, Local Director, currently practices with the Criminal Defense Unit of the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo.
Prior to this position, she practiced immigration and nationality law for almost 30 years in Buffalo, Rochester, Washington, DC and San Francisco. She was previously the Director of the Immigration Program at the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), Inc. where she launched several innovative programs: a universal representation program for indigent noncitizens detained at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility; a training and technical assistance program for defense attorneys to understand the consequences of criminal pleas on immigration status; a weekly legal orientation and pro se training program for noncitizens detained by the Department of Homeland Security; and programs that serve unaccompanied immigrant youth, and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking; as well as recruiting, training and mentoring pro bono attorneys to represent immigrants before the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and the federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ms. Feal has also spoken publicly about and published extensively on immigration law issues.
Ms. Feal serves on New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration Representation, and was appointed to the Judiciary Committee of the Bar Association of Erie County for the 2017 term, and elected to the Board of the Women’s Bar Association of New York—WNY Chapter in 2017. She was elected to a three year term on the Board of Directors of the Bar Association of Erie County (BAEC) and served from 2014 to 2017, and has been Chair of BAEC’s Human Rights and Immigration Law Committees.
She has received the following awards: Business First/Buffalo Law Journal, recognized as among the “Legal Elite” of 2017 and 2014; Upstate New York SuperLawyers, 2009; Buffalo Law Journal, “Who’s Who in Law in Western New York,” 2007 and 2008; VIVE La Casa John R. Long Award for work with refugees and immigrants, May 2008; Volunteer Recognition Award in immigration law, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc., 2005, while in private practice.
Herself an immigrant, she was raised speaking French and Spanish, is a 1988 graduate of UB Law School and earned a B.A. at Buffalo State College.