The Go-To Lawyer of ‘Northern Virginiastan’

Muslim-American attorney Ashraf Nubani dreams of building an ordinary law practice. Meanwhile, there are terrorists—alleged and otherwise—to defend

By Terry Carter

Ashraf Nubani had a plan when he left the bustle of New York City in 1998, relocating with his wife and four children to the gentler northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. He took a job with a 10-lawyer firm and began developing a specialty in one of its practice areas—immigration.

His ever-expanding ties to the metro area’s large Muslim community would help grow a general practice in a way he describes only half-jokingly:

Step 1: Help the foreign national get an H-1B visa, which is quicker than a green card for permission to work here.

Step 2:When he becomes a permanent resident, handle incorporation matters for his startup company.

Step 3: After he marries, represent him in his divorce.

Step 4: When his ex-wife takes all the money, work his bankruptcy.

Step 5: When his resulting anger leads to a DUI arrest, go with him to traffic court.That was the plan. But things changed considerably for this Palestinian-American lawyer after Sept. 11, 2001.