Immigration Attorney Gordon Quan Adds Another Super Bowl to Accomplishments
Reprinted from The Houston Lawyer, May/June 2017 By Kit Frieden
Nationally known immigration lawyer Gordon Quan recently stepped up to serve on a major Super Bowl committee. It was somewhat predictable because Quan contributes to an astounding number and variety of volunteer tasks all across the city, and also because Quan is a big sports fan.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my life here in Houston,” Quan said. “So I view these jobs as my way of trying to give something back.”
This was Quan’s second Super Bowl planning experience. His role this year was on the Super Bowl Community Council where he helped conceive of the Game City Showcase. That was the popular four-day event filled with music, dance and food in four distinctive inner-city neighborhoods leading up to Game Day itself.
The highlight for him was “introducing people to some of our wonderful neighborhoods and attractions and to see local businesses benefit from the Super Bowl,” said Quan.
“I’m very proud of this city, and I wanted to help Houston show off its big heart and openness to visitors. The idea was to highlight what these neighborhoods offer.”
Back when Houston hosted the 2004 Super Bowl, Quan was on the Houston City Council. At that time, he was part of a city government that was aggressively pushing to finish several projects before the big game – including light rail linking downtown to what was then Reliant Stadium.
During his six years on the council, Quan had the satisfaction of seeing Houston open the stadium now known as NRG, as well as Minute Maid Park and Toyota Center. Twice, he got to throw out the first pitch at Minute Maid. But one of his favorite sports anecdotes was meeting Yao Ming and sitting in the owner’s box with Yao’s parents during the Basketball Hall of Famer’s first home game with the Rockets.
As the first Asian-American elected to a citywide council position, Quan, who was born in China, has a special understanding of the challenges of foreign newcomers. He spearheaded a user-friendly Office for Immigration and Refugee Affairs at City Hall and now works with Mayor Sylvester Turner on the Welcoming Houston Initiative supporting immigrants and refugees. He believes immigrants “replenish the vitality of a city.” For nine years he has hosted a weekly radio program on KPFT-FM, “Coming to America,” which discusses immigration problems and offers advice to callers.
Quan was granted U.S. citizenship because his father served in the U.S. military. But it still took him 18 months of confusing paperwork to prove his citizenship. He thought about how difficult this process must be for less educated people who don’t speak English, and that propelled him toward immigration law.
After graduating from the University of Texas, his first job was teaching history to Houston seventh-graders. That wasn’t a good fit. Quan tried guidance counseling, but ultimately decided the law would help him make the most difference in people’s lives. He took night classes at the South Texas College of Law Houston to earn his law degree in 1977.
Last year, Quan was awarded the law school’s Distinguished Alumni Award, recognizing his civic contributions and significant leadership at the school. He has taught immigration law classes at the school and serves on its board of directors. He also serves on the advisory board of the University of Houston Immigration Law Clinic and is a founding member of the Asian American Bar Association of Houston.
Quan has co-founded three different immigration law firms over his career, most recently Quan Law Group, two years ago. The firm assists businesses, individual clients and families with a variety of immigration needs. Languages spoken by lawyers at Quan Law include Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Quan is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Immigration and Nationality Law. He has earned numerous accolades over the years, including the title of Nationwide Senior Statesman in immigration from Chambers USA list of business lawyers.
Quan is currently helping Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez with outreach to Harris County’s many diverse communities. He says he is most proud of inspiring others to give back to the community. Firms he has led have twice been recognized as Pro Bono Firm of the Year by the Houston Bar Association/Houston Bar Foundation.
Kit Frieden is a longtime journalist and a consultant with Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.