(Partnership) As the metaverse expands into all industries, some are placing a higher priority on creating virtual spaces, like AG Immigration in the legal space. We caught up with firm founder and CEO Rodrigo Costa, who tells us why having an office in the metaverse is essential for a law firm and how his journey in tech + business shows why it will soon be no different than having a website.
1. How long ago did you start AG Immigration? Who did you start the firm with and why?
We started AG Immigration in 2018. Everything began in 2009 when I had to come to the United States for work-related reasons. I hired Felipe Alexandre as my immigration attorney, he’s also Brazilian but has lived in the US since he was a child. What began as an attorney-client relationship became a friendship and, years later, we founded AG Immigration. The firm was originally born from aiming at the growing number of Brazilians looking to a new life in America – in 2019, for example, more than 19,000 Brazilians had issued their green card, a record high. But above that, we had a mission: treat our clients with empathy, differently from what we are used to seeing at other law firms, with a more personal touch. We understand that everyone who hires us – whether it’s a person or a company – needs reliable, warm and humane assistance in getting a visa for themselves, their family members or their employees. Some cases we have are standard, but some are life-and-death situations.
2. Describe what you were doing before launching AG Immigration? What was your journey like?
Before becoming an executive for AG Immigration, I worked for many decades as a business consultant for some of Brazil’s biggest companies, helping them craft more efficient processes. This is the vision I try to implement here at AG: how can we offer the best immigration service to our clients and the best corporate environment to our employees without having to exceed our budget? I found out in the past four years that many lawyers excel at what they do – understand our legal system – but are not necessarily the best at running a business. So, in a way, what I do as CEO of AG Immigration is the same thing I’ve been doing for my entire life.
3. Why was opening an office in the metaverse the right move for AG Immigration?
Our mission is to expand the horizons for individuals and companies looking for immigration legal services. And in order for us to do that, we need to be available for our clients no matter where or when. This led us to open a space in the metaverse to be present for our clients on one additional channel. Besides, we have clients from almost 30 different countries and most of them have never set foot in the US. All of our meetings are virtual. So why not run those meetings via metaverse, where they’ll be able to see a replica of our office, interact with digital tools, and have an immersive experience? This brings them closer to us and goes hand-in-hand with what I mentioned before: the metaverse helps us treat the client with a warmer and more human touch.
4. Does the new metaverse office change how you conduct business?
Yes! First, we had to spread the information internally and explain to every department how the metaverse office would impact their work. Then we had a series of training sessions with our intake specialists, lawyers and paralegal so they could be ready to perform a consultation virtually in the metaverse. We’re also requiring new content and ideas from the departments in order to keep our metaverse fresh and up to date.
5. How important is it for law firms to stay tech-savvy?
I like to say that every company should be a tech company that does something specific. We are a tech company that happens to give legal services to immigrants who want to live in the US and companies that need to hire foreign workers. In our case, when we use technology in our favor, we save time for our lawyers and paralegals, allowing them to focus less on administrative tasks and more on the cases themselves.
6. What is AG Immigration’s main purpose/mission and how does tech help implement that?
In an industry with so many players, we want to give our clients the option to hire a law firm that will take care of their cases from beginning to end, with a warm, humane touch. We show them why America is the perfect place for them to transform their dreams into reality and, at the same time, show to the US government how they can contribute to our society. We are essentially matchmakers.
By virtue of being a law firm, we must comply with lots of rules, like protecting our client’s data. Technology is indispensable for that. And that’s just one example. We also deal with a huge volume of documents. In order for us to organize all that, we use advanced software.
7. What type of client does your team take on and what industries are they working in?
We have basically three big categories of clients: individuals looking for humanitarian services, especially asylum; professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree-seeking an EB visa, engineers, IT specialists, developers, airplane pilots, dentists, athletes, and nurses; and we also have corporate clients – American companies hiring immigrants.
8. In today’s modern world what is your key to business development and how has tech + social media changed your approach?
You can’t develop a business if you don’t know your client. Technology and social media are fundamental for us to know who our client is, where they live, their biggest pains, the way they decide, and so on. That, of course, generates a lot of data that needs to be properly read and analyzed, but that is something technology is also a key part of.
9. Tell us your three favorite things about AG Immigration?
Our unique way of treating clients, the expertise of our legal team, and our optimistic approach to challenges. I’ve lost count of how many times clients would call us worried because they had their petition denied and, when our attorneys looked at the case, they would say: we can likely reverse this. Of course, we never make promises to clients, as we know it does not depend exclusively on us for a petition to be successful in the eyes of US immigration, but I love how we’re always believing it can be done.
10. Where is AG Immigration headed next? Where do you see the firm in 2-3 years?
We just had our first merger a few months ago, with an old firm of Felipe Alexander. We are finalizing the process of unifying the teams and the systems. We just opened a new office in Istanbul, and for the next year, we’re planning to increase our international reach. If today we have clients from almost 30 countries, we expect to double that in the short term. We are also expecting to have more and more consultations happening in the metaverse. We truly believe that the metaverse will be the equivalent of the website: there won’t be a small or big business without a virtual space.
If you need more information on AG Immigration and their legal services please visit their website https://agimmigration.law/.
Sean Earley is the Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.