In 1992, upon receiving my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Minnesota, I determined to devote my legal practice solely to immigration. In a way, the choice was made for me: as the son of a Hungarian refugee, I felt compelled to work so that the refugees and immigrants of today are welcomed as my father was, over four decades ago.
That advocacy for immigrants does not end when I leave this office. For 10 years I held the position of Coordinator of the Dallas Section of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). For six I served on an adjudicatory panel of the State Bar of Texas Chief Disciplinary Counsel. I have chaired the Advisory Board of the Dallas Office of International Rescue Committee and the boards of directors of the Center for Survivors of Torture and Proyecto Adelante.
I am very proud to have received the AILA Texas/Oklahoma Chapter’s 2019 Pro Bono Champion Award; the Dallas Bar Association Immigration Law Section’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award; the Dallas Peace and Justice Center’s 2017 Justice Seeker Award; and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas’ 2016 Louise Raggio Women’s Advocacy Award (for “demonstrat[ing] the highest level of professionalism while making significant contributions to the advancement of women attorneys”). I am pleased also to have received, in 2002, Special Recognition from Dallas’ Mayor. Displayed in the waiting area of this office, that Special Recognition states, “Paul Zoltan has unselfishly dedicated his life to defending the legal rights of victims of domestic abuse, in particular those who lacked funds to retain legal counsel and those seeking asylum,” and “assisted the poorest of the poor to participate as full citizens in our democratic society.”
Just as dear to me as any of these awards is the less formal recognition offered me by the former Dallas District Director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Arthur E. Strapp. In a letter now displayed in my office corridor, the late District Director addressed me as “an extraordinary advocate for the downtrodden” and bequeathed me the collection of Immigration and Naturalization Decisions he had inherited from his father.