Seattle Culture

Trailblazing Women: Tahmina Watson

Founder, Watson Immigration Law

By Tahmina Watson June 5, 2024

Portrait of a woman with dark hair and a confident smile, wearing a red blouse against a soft, neutral background.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

I am a servant leader who leads with love. It has taken four decades to know this about myself. And now I am unapologetically loving to everyone. My journey to this realization was paved by my dedication as an immigration lawyer, a profession where compassion is a key ingredient.

Yet, being a lawyer and running a law firm are two different things. One you learn in law school; the other by being immersed in the business of law. I had no role models when I started practicing in the United States in 2006. With the encouragement of my husband, I opened the doors to Watson Immigration Law on Jan. 1, 2009, and haven’t looked back. I am most grateful for and proud of still standing strong, knowing that my firm has impacted our community, local and national laws and policies, and the lives of individuals for generations to come. I am content knowing that my impact will be felt long after I have gone.

However, this journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Despite my zealous representation fueled by empathy, some, predominantly men, have misconstrued it as a weakness, undermining my worth. It took considerable inner growth to assert myself without sacrificing my empathy, a struggle shared by many women throughout generations. Reflecting on my experiences, I believe it’s imperative for educational institutions to incorporate courses on loving leadership, empowering women (and men) to navigate their careers with confidence and grace from the outset.

Fortuitously, Seattle provided me with a supportive environment to thrive. Through bar associations and community involvement, I found invaluable friendships, mentors, and advocates, bolstering me through difficult times. I also found my passion for startups and founders through the local tech ecosystem. Helping startups and international founders with niche immigration solutions led to advocating for immigration reform, culminating in the creation of my book series, The Startup Visa.

It all began because I had my own “Sleepless in Seattle” moment when I met my husband during a blind date when I was visiting from my hometown of London.

Seattle has been a leading city in the nation, not just in the tech space that most people are aware of, but also because of its leadership during times of immigration crisis. For example, Seattle remains the first and only city to have created novel legal clinics and programs for vulnerable immigrants by paying stipends to lawyers. It is heartening to know that Seattle’s model can be an example for the rest of the country.

In essence, Seattle’s embrace has shaped me into the leader I am today.

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