Lawyers' words are kerosene on the flaming H-1B bonfire

Pittsburgh lawyers advise on how not to have to hire an American worker.

Harry Fuller Executive editor, CNET News.com
Harry Fuller escaped from television work to be executive editor at CNET News.com.
Harry Fuller
2 min read
The immigration battle brews on Capitol Hill. U.S. Senate

Much of life is timing. And in this case we have video of lawyers saying things that will only add more fuel to the already burning issues of immigration and controversial H-1B visas.

Speaking to his law firm's clients, Lawrence Lebowitz advises them, "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker. And that, in a sense, that sounds funny, but it's what we're trying to do here."

A lawyer working with Lebowitz outlines what employers may have to do if a qualified U.S. citizen does apply for a job: "If necessary schedule an interview, go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them for this particular position."

Later a representative for a lawyer's professional group said the seminar from Lebowitz and friends was for employers who already had temporary foreign workers and wanted to make those workers permanent.

How do we, the public, get to hear this lawyerly advice? Video clips of this legal seminar have been posted on YouTube, of course. This, in turn, aroused significant attention and media coverage. This occurs as there's a heated battle in Washington D.C. over immigration law.

So we know that Lebowitz and his associates work for Cohen & Grigsby, a law firm with offices in Pittsburgh and Florida. Lebowitz is listed as a director on the firm's Web site. He's one of 14 associates of the firm who were recognized by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers 2007. C&G uses the motto "progressive law."

So Mr. Lebowitz seems to have leap-frogged his colleagues, going from advising lawyer to national celebrity, all via YouTube. And how did this happen? Somebody who apparently disapproved of Lebowitz's suggestions alerted a Californian who fights H-1B visas. At one time the entire presentation was posted online, deliberately, by C&G. From there the edited video got onto YouTube via ProgrammersGuild.org.