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Martin Lester


Martin W. Lester received his J.D. (1990) from Yale Law School, where he served as Executive Editor of the Yale Journal of International Law and as a Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal. While at Yale, Martin received Honors grades in both Immigration and Refugee Studies and International Business Transactions. Martin graduated magna cum laude from Brown University (1987), where he majored in International Relations and was selected for membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

Martin represents both individuals and businesses in immigration matters, including family-based visa petitions, visa applications for entrepreneurs and skilled workers, permanent resident applications for highly skilled individuals, and removal defense in immigration courts throughout the Southeastern United States. He has authored articles for local publications and spoken before various professional groups on immigration topics. Martin authored the chapter “Advising the Small Business Client: Needs, Expectations, and Reality” in Employing International Workers (Aspatore Books, 2011 ed.). He has taught Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses in immigration law to attorneys in Tennessee and Florida. Martin is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He has served on AILA’s National Committee on Consumer Protection and the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL), and for two years as the UPL Committee Chair for the AILA Central Florida Chapter, where he has worked to protect the public from “notarios” and other unlicensed practitioners. He currently serves on the AILA Military Assistance Program (MAP) Committee, helping to lead a nationally-recognized program that matches qualifying Armed Forces members with pro bono immigration attorneys.  Martin is currently the President of the International Business Council (Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce), and also serves on the Board of Bridge Refugee Services.

In his criminal defense practice, Martin concentrates on trial-level defense of serious felony cases. He is one of only a small number of attorneys qualified for appointment as lead counsel in death penalty cases, and has served as lead counsel or co-counsel in eleven death penalty cases in Florida. Martin spent nine years practicing in the Virginia Public Defender system, two of which were spent as the appointed Public Defender for the City and County of Fairfax, and has maintained an active criminal defense practice since re-entering private practice in 2003. Martin is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (TACDL), and the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel for the Eastern District of Tennessee.