TAMPA – Dilip Patel, formerly of Shutts & Bowen, recently joined the Tampa office of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, driven by the need to better serve his clients.
For more than 30 years, Patel, who specializes in immigration law, has fought for legal status for individuals and families, as well as U.S. companies wanting to hire foreign nationals for temporary and permanent assignment.
Patel’s own path to the U.S. inspired his life’s work.
Raised in a rural village in Uganda, Patel's family had no running water or electricity for the first years of his life. Political upheaval prompted the family’s move to London, where his parents took jobs on assembly lines and factories in order to stay in the country and given their three boys a better education.
Patel eventually graduated from the London School of Economics at the University of London. Following graduation, he practiced law, married, then five years later moved to the U.S. to be near his siblings.
Tampa captured Patel’s heart. Yet, to continue practicing law, he needed to study at a school accredited by the American Bar Association. He chose the Florida State University’s College of Law and finished in two years instead of the usual three. Studying at a law school in the U.S. gave him an edge over his colleagues.
“Practicing law in the U.S. is very different from practicing law in England,” Patel told the Florida Record. “You get to understand a little bit more about how lawyers in the U.S. think, and also you get a better feel for the culture behind the law.”
Following graduation, he accepted an offer with the high-profile Tampa firm Fowler White Boggs. There he met and was mentored by William Flynn. His ascending star attracted the attention of a large software company. He accepted its offer and served as general counsel. After he helped take the company public, a global IT entity acquired it. His new employers invited him to move to its headquarters in Boston; however, motivated by his love for Tampa, Patel opened his own practice instead.
Patel grew his firm and in eight years, his business expanded in scope. To better accommodate foreign investors who needed to live in the U.S., he joined Shutts & Bowen.
“I was growing my immigration practice and looking to grow it further, so I was looking perhaps to add people and resources,” he said.
Though satisfied at Shutts & Bowen, Patel has never been one to remain still. Moved by the changing immigration laws and shifting needs of his clients, he joined Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney where he has greater access to paralegal and financial resources.
“It’s the same drive that encouraged the move from my own firm to join the previous law firm,” he said. “I was obviously very happy where I was at Shutts. The decision was driven by business sense.”
The move allowed Patel to pull in front of Florida’s immigration boom and even come full circle. Once again he works closely with Flynn, his former mentor, and head of the immigration department at Buchanan. It made the move to Buchanan a kind of coming home.