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  • Article: AILA Sued for Breach of Contract by Ken Rinzler

    AILA Sued for Breach of Contract

    by Kenneth Rinzler

    As many readers of ILW.Com know, this past February the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) banned the author and his colleague Susan McFadden of London from AILA’s Message Center (MC), allegedly for posting the self-publicized nickname of AILA’s webmaster, but in reality for embarrassing the organization over its lack of transparency.

    As a consequence, on September 17 a small claims suit for the return of the author’s membership dues was filed in DC Superior Court (Docket 2013 SC2 004546), set for hearing on Tuesday, October 15. Mail service was made to AILA’s registered agent, Executive Director Crystal Williams, at AILA Headquarters yesterday.

    The statement of claim is as follows:

    On December 18, 2012, I paid the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) five hundred forty dollars ($540.00) in annual dues for my calendar year 2013 annual membership. A major part of membership in AILA – as stated by AILA itself in its promotional materials -- is use of the internal and proprietary “Message Center”, an online forum where all 12,000 AILA members can share ideas and advice and otherwise communicate with each other and the AILA national staff and leadership.

    On February 20, 2013, I was suspended from the Message Center (specifically, I cannot read and/or post messages on same). The alleged reason was because I posted the self-publicized nickname (“Hoo”) of Ms. Andrea Chempinski, AILA’s Associate Director of Online Services and administrator of the Message Center, on the Message Center. The real reason was because I have consistently embarrassed AILA and its national leadership through “whistleblowing” type writings, both on the MC and in other, public online forums such as ILW.Com (Immigration Lawyers on the Web), and because I was running for the position of Treasurer in the national organization’s July 2013 election and the AILA leadership wanted to do whatever it could to curtail my campaign.

    The ban by AILA is a breach of contract, as well as a clear infringement on my First Amendment rights and obvious retaliation for the exercise of same. My national and required DC Chapter dues should be refunded in full.

    The court should also take note that as of this court filing, seven months after my suspension was implemented for allegedly posting her self-publicized nickname, Ms. Chempinki still publicizes the exact same information on her own multiple websites, thus proving that the publication of this information was not the true reason for this breach of contract.

    As part of the filing, the author submitted various MC postings, emails between himself and various elected officers and staff of AILA, and publicly available information about Ms. Chempinski, including her now infamous “I am Hoo Am, Andrea ‘Hoo’ Chempinski” autobiography page from one of her websites ( http://www.hooloovoo.com/hoo.html), which contains the following:

    What do Hoo's do?

    Well Hoo's can do lots of things, but currently I am a website and graphics designer. I own the design company ConceptFish which specializes in clean, classic design, so if you're looking for a designer, check it out. And in case you were wondering, yes you did read the previous paragraph correctly - I am an attorney by training. But I decided that there were enough lawyers out there and turned my website hobbies my career. (and yes I can tell you "back in the day" stories of websites that didn't even allow colored fonts or backgrounds!) Currently I am the webmaster for the American Immigration Lawyers Association during the day and a freelancer at night. Previously I spent four years managing the website for the law firm Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll. I'm always looking for that "perfect job" so if you think you've got one to offer me, please check out my resume (Adobe Acrobat file). In addition to that I'm also a professional figure skating photographer. My work has been featured in numerous magaines [SIC] and newspapers, as well as used by skaters and organizations for promotional items. You can see my work at ScratchSpin.com.

    As fellow attorneys will know, all of the submissions are now part of the public record. I have also attached a pdf copy of some of the supporting documents of the filing to this article, so that the thousands of ILW readers can judge for themselves how AILA acted when it came to responding to a whistleblower.

    I look forward to the 15th with great interest. We will all see if AILA’s story will hold up not only in court, but in the court of public opinion. And because it is open court, all MC postings on this subject will be fair game and subject to publication and discussion.

    AILA cannot continue to violate its own bylaws and restrict the membership rights of a member in good standing. AILA makes a mockery of the values of the profession it purports to represent.


    About The Author

    Kenneth Rinzler is an immigration lawyer in Washington, DC, and a frequent visitor to consular posts, having now traveled to 40 countries. A graduate of Georgetown University and Seton Hall University School of Law, he is a member of the District of Columbia, Indiana, New Jersey, and U.S. Supreme Court Bars. In addition to authoring articles for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), he has written on immigration law for the German American Chamber of Commerce. Before specializing in immigration law, he spent nearly ten years working as a legislative assistant and counsel to a U.S. Congressman, and thus has an intimate knowledge of Federal legislative and administrative procedures.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
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