Leigh Cole is Immigration Counsel in the firm’s San Francisco office. Known nationally for her experience in immigration for educational institutions, she has extensive experience with employment-based immigration matters and advises on immigration compliance, best practices, audits and self-audits, applications for immigration benefits, and international student and scholar services for institutions, nonprofits, NGOs, and businesses.

Leigh advises clients on issues including:

  • Best practices in immigration compliance
  • Employment-based immigration status
  • I-9 self-audits (are your I-9 records as compliant as you think they are?)
  • Ongoing support for immigration questions that arise at your organization
  • Immigration sponsorship opportunities for international personnel
  • Legal support for International Student and Scholar Services at schools

She works with general counsel, executives and investors, human resources directors, international education advisors, recruiters, and others responsible for immigration compliance for institutions, organizations, and businesses.

Says Leigh, “Hirschfeld Kraemer is a dynamic, forward-thinking law firm, and I appreciate being a part of it.”

Her passions are horses, boating, sailing, and flower gardening.

Best Lawyers (2010–2017) Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys

American Bar Association

Vermont Bar Association

New York Bar Association American Immigration Lawyers Association

National Association of College and University Attorneys

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Co-Instructor, NACUA online course, “The ABCs of F, J and H-1Bs: Immigration Basics for Colleges and Universities” (2011 to present)

Board of Directors, VT Council on World Affairs (2013 to present)

Leadership Champlain, a division of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (Director, August 2007 to 2014, and Board Chair)

Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (2011 to 2013)

Director, Wake Robin Corporation, member, Finance Committee (2007 to 2011)

Director Emeritus, Far Post Soccer Club, Inc.

Creator and leader, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) Circle of discussion group on socially responsible business practices (2007 to 2008)

Director, Lake Champlain Land Trust, 2001 to 2007 (term limit)

Founding Director, South Hero Land Trust, 1996 to 1998 Leadership Champlain, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Class of 1998

H-1B and permanent residency applications for faculty and researchers

L-1 petitions for executives managers and specialized knowledge employees at multinational corporations

Establishing new U.S. business entities for international companies

Advising general counsels and HR directors on day-to-day immigration questions for employees, executives, students and scholars

I-9 self audits for HR departments

Immigration training on campus for staff involved in recruiting and hiring

Review of immigration sponsorship policies for hospitals and schools

Applications for F-1 certification and J-1 designation for schools to sponsor international students and exchange visitors


J.D., Albany Law School of Union University, 1991

B.A., Cornell University, 1985

Philips Exeter Academy, 1981


New York Appellate Division, Third Department

State of Vermont Supreme Court

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

U.S. District Court, District of Vermont

U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York