Helen (Jugovic) Tarokic (JD ’10), Bradley Setzer (JD ’16) featured in WilmingtonBiz for tackling immigration law

Photo graphic of Professor Margaret Taylor speaking on a panel in front of an audience at a WFU event on the 2017 Trump Immigration ban with a block quote stating,'Immigration lawyers are drinking from firehoses right now. - Professor Margaret Taylor'

Helen (Jugovic) Tarokic (JD ’10) and Bradley Setzer (JD ’16) are featured in the following story, “Tarokic Tackles Immigration Law,” which was written by Cece Nunn and published by WilmingtonBiz on April 21, 2017. An excerpt follows:

Long before last year’s election, attorney Helen Tarokic ran a busy immigration law practice in Wilmington.

“I’ve consistently been booking up at least three months in advance for new consultations for years now. There just aren’t a lot of immigration lawyers,” said Tarokic, one of two North Carolina board-certified immigration specialists in Wilmington, who opened her own practice in the Port City in 2011.

 Immigration attorney Helen Tarokic started her own Wilmington practice in 2011 and is one of two North Carolina board-certified immigration specialists in Wilmington. (Photo by Chris Brehmer)

Despite pledges from President Donald Trump’s administration to crack down on illegal immigrants, Tarokic advises caution without overreaction.

“Not a single client of mine has been deported since the election, and I don’t think that people should be paralyzed with fear. So the message I’ve been trying to send is, ‘Prepare. Go see a lawyer. See what your options are. If you don’t have an option, find out if your spouse or child does because every case is different,’” Tarokic said recently during an interview in her law firm at the Offices at Mayfaire. “I think that the people-are-just-afraid theme concerns me because … so much hasn’t actually changed.”

In addition to operating an expanding law firm, Tarokic has won awards for mentoring and has worked to lead the field in obtaining humanitarian visas for victims of domestic violence and other crimes.

On a recent Friday, Tarokic was celebrating a case her firm had won, with the help of new associate attorney Bradley Setzer’s work on a subpoena, in Charlotte Immigration Court the day before. The 90-minute trial ended in the judge canceling the removal of Felipe Diaz, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in Wilmington for nearly 18 years and who supports a family of six with his landscaping job.

Tarokic’s parents were immigrants, moving to the U.S. from the portion of Yugoslavia that is now Croatia. She met her husband while she was overseas studying the Croatian language, and they were married in 2011. The couple has two children.

An Illinois native, Tarokic graduated from Lake Forest College near Chicago with a degree in psychology and a minor in international relations. Deciding that becoming a therapist wasn’t the right move for her, she found a job at the law firm of immigration attorney Paul Zulkie in Chicago.

“From the moment I started working there, I knew this was something I could do for the rest of my life,” said Tarokic, who went on to graduate from Wake Forest University School of Law.

Despite her busy schedule and family life, Tarokic also conducts community sessions on immigration law. Tarokic is scheduled to host a two-day seminar May 19 and 20 at UNCW’s Morton Hall on human trafficking visas, or T visas.

“For me, immigration’s such an interesting puzzle. There are a million statutes and laws that all connect somehow or don’t connect in interesting ways, and I really like working on those puzzles,” Tarokic said. “And it’s really nice when a client gets a positive result, lots of hugs and happy tears.”