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Breaking the Ice: Supreme Court ruling offsets chilly wait for arguments

Todd Nelson//August 19, 2020

Breaking the Ice: Supreme Court ruling offsets chilly wait for arguments

Todd Nelson//August 19, 2020

Name: Scott Andrew Fulks

Title: Immigration attorney, Deckert & Van Loh

Education: B.A., pastoral studies and Greek, Northland International University; M.Div., Central Baptist Theological Seminary; Th.M. in historical theology, Central Baptist Theological Seminary; J.D., University of St. Thomas School of Law

For Scott Andrew Fulks, attending the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments on a significant case in which he had co-written an amicus brief was well worth the standing in line overnight in 20-degree January weather.

Fulks, an immigration attorney at Deckert & Van Loh in Maple Grove, was a law student when he completed the brief in Espinoza v. Montana with Thomas Berg, the James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion, largely agreed with the brief, overturning a Montana program that barred families from using scholarships from a tax-credit program at religious schools.

“It was great to see that what our brief focused on ended up being one of the focal points of the decision,” Fulks said.

Fulks went to law school after a friend suggested that immigration law would be a good fit for Fulks’ studies in interpreting texts and counseling and, with Fulks’ having grown up in Peru, his fluency in Spanish.

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Tell me about where you’ve traveled and how it’s changed you.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: “Building a StoryBrand” and “The Economists’ Hour.”

Q: What’s a pet peeve of yours?

A: In South America, when people come into a room with many others, they often go around and greet or acknowledge everyone. It’s still a shock here when people come into a roomful of others and you may not even make eye contact.

Q: What do you like most about your work?

A: I love the people that I represent. When you see their humility, their drive for success and their work ethic it makes you want to go to bat for them.

Q: What do you least like about it?

A: Working with the various government agencies. The decisions from them can often be all over the board. Their requests or stipulations as to what we are to submit are constantly changing and have little room for error.

Q: What do you like doing away from work?

A: I’m undergoing a pretty ambitious remodel of my home, so that’s occupying a bit of my time in the evenings and weekends. Otherwise we love to travel internationally so we like to take children abroad to a different country at least once a year.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: My hometown is Lima, Peru. I would take them to enjoy the food. Peruvian food is well known as some of the best in the world. The second thing would be to meet the people. You would be very hard pressed to find a Peruvian who would not engage you in conversation and be very welcoming.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you most admire—and why?

A: Stephen Yale-Loehr, a well-known immigration attorney. I have admired in his various talks and seminars that I have attended and watched how he is able to simplify complex issues.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A: I’m surprised that that most people still assume that I’m working with undocumented immigrants primarily. While that represents a small slice of my clients, in reality the vast majority have proper status in the United States and are looking to obtain a further benefit from where they’re at whether that’s permanent residency or citizenship or the same for a close family member.

Q: What’s your favorite depiction of the law or the legal profession in popular culture?

A: The most recent one I’ve seen is “Just Mercy,” demonstrating the life of Bryan Stevenson and his work in Alabama. I particularly appreciated how the movie did not glorify the winning result that he had because in fact for the vast majority of the movie he had loss after loss and setback after setback. Often that’s somewhat the practice of law.

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