Interview with Nora E. Milner, Esq. and her Daughter, Tifany E. Markee, Esq, Law Offices of Milner & Markee, LLP


This firm is a specialty law boutique that provides extensive experience and knowledge in the fields of immigration and nationality law, federal criminal law, international adoption law and space law (see our website at ).  The purpose is to assist immigrants from every walk of life, from the agricultural worker to the most skilled professional, to enter the United States for either temporary or permanent residence.  The target audience is literally the world:  there is almost no nation we have not represented.  We represent artists, athletes, scholars, medical personnel, teachers, engineers, jockeys, ballerinas, investors and field workers.  Our goals: to make entry to this country as seamless as possible and provide personal service to guide an alien through a long and complex maze that is immigration law.  We also represent aliens in all levels of federal court, litigating constitutional issues such as illegal search and seizure.  It is unique for several reasons: we stress personal service and treat every client, no matter their socio-economic level, with utmost courtesy and attention.  In addition, we are recognized in our field as experts on complicated legal issues of immigration law.  Our clients are our number-one source of advertising and referrals, and nearly all new clients come to us via word of mouth from others we have helped. 

Our firm is also uniquely equipped to ride out any economic downturn that we may face (and are currently facing).  Unlike many law firms that limit their client base to a particular sub-specialty (i.e. business immigration), our firm has a solid foundation of professional service in all aspects of immigration, international law and federal court procedures.  We are uniquely able to provide additional focus to one client base as others may slow down, and therefore retain our profitability.  However, we remain dedicated to the complex field of immigration, and have not diluted our practice; as such, we are able to remain current and educated on all of the changing aspects of this politically-charged field.


Founding a family-owned law firm was not a lifelong goal or plan.  While Nora was sworn into the legal field in 1976, and therefore has dedicated herself for over 30 years to this profession, Tifany was set to enter medicine.  She graduated from college with a degree in Biochemistry, and attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas.  When she discovered during her first year that medicine was simply not in her heart after all (which is a story in and of itself), Tifany entered law school simply to advance her education and obtain a professional degree.  At that time, Tifany did not know she would actually practice law.  However, law school was a perfect match for her, and she excelled at her academics, graduating Magna Cum Laude from a top law school, and passing the challenging California Bar Exam on her first try.  During law school, Tifany worked for Nora as a paralegal; following graduation, the formation of the law practice was a natural and easy step.  Milner & Markee, LLP was founded on January 1, 2002. 

Nora Milner, the Senior Attorney, is primarily the litigator.  She has earned a reputation of taking difficult cases and winning them.  She represents aliens faced with deportation from immigration court up to the federal appeals courts.  She is a skilled appellate lawyer and a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California.  Tifany Markee is highly skilled in the administrative end of immigration law, working with investors and professionals.  With a background in medicine (having spent a year in medical school), she is excellent with statistics and details that affect such highly skilled aliens and businesses.  She is also among a small handful of attorneys in the United States skilled in international adoption law.  She can lead clients through the intricate area of international adoptions from the petitions with the Citizenship Service to U.S. Embassies abroad to the foreign courts that deal with children being adopted, interacting comfortably with adoption agencies both in the U.S. and abroad.


Interestingly, we have had very few challenges, as we have meshed together into a very comfortable role of mutual respect and admiration for each other’s contributions. Occasionally, we may approach a particular case in a different way, but we are always able to sit down and strategize it together and find common ground.  As Tifany was growing up, Nora was wonderful at keeping a clear distinction between work and family time; work almost never came home, and family time was special, dedicated time.  That pattern has now continued, with both Tifany and Nora able to leave the work behind when the office has been closed for the day.  Both recognize that family time is wonderful, precious and fleeting, and both have been able to create a wonderful balance between work and family.  To that end, our law firm has implemented a 4-day work week, Monday through Thursday.  This encourages our staff to also spend down time with family, and return to the office on Monday fully recharged. 

Triumphs?  They are many: we each bring unique skills to the table.  Tifany has the youth and fresh approach to modern problems in the law.  Nora has the time-tested experience and stability to know the pitfalls of cases having practiced law since 1976.  The team approach is a definite triumph and the fact that in our community, we are known and respected for our special skills. In addition, because we are family, we have a common ground of concern for each other as people, outside the office, and this love extends to all that we do.  We are mindful to not criticize each other, but to recognize that we are still individuals who may approach an issue differently, but ultimately we find the solution for the client.

We like being together best.  Really.  We enjoy each other’s company, and are best friends both in and out of the office.  We can cover for each other if there is a conflict on the calendar where one of us is double-booked.  We enjoy grabbing lunch together when we can and laughing about funny things that happen in the office.  Most especially, we enjoy sharing time with and stories about the grandchildren (Tif has two children, ages 6 and 5, both adopted from Russia).

Least? When we do have an occasional disagreement, it can be a bit “frosty” in the office until we just sit down and talk it out.  Being in such close quarters, we don’t have the benefit of distance when we do have a “tiff” but in certain ways, that is better since it forces us to work out the issue right away rather than letting it fester.  Our staff, I’m sure, can sense when we have argued outside of the office; but we are quick to resolve any personal issues, as we value our working and family relationships far too much. 

No big challenges have faced us, but when one is in a bad mood for some silly reason, again, due to the close proximity to each other, we have to make room for that person’s mood that day and give each other time to resolve it, sometimes with just a little quiet time.

Since our firm also includes Scott (Nora’s husband and Tif’s dad), we really do have a true family business. He is the firm’s paralegal and legal administrator. Best tip: don’t take work home! Since we all share similar issues all day and work on cases, it is easy to “talk shop” too much on our leisure time. I make it a point to leave work and such “shop talk” at the office and just enjoy being ourselves and family outside the office.  I think that that is probably the biggest downfall of family businesses: they take their work into their leisure time and then work and leisure time is never separated.  Then, problems that arise at home are carried over into the office and vice-versa.  Keep a division between work and home and enjoy both, but not at the same time.

The most exciting thing has been earning the reputation of an excellent mother-daughter team.  Being excellent attorneys in our own right, we have become known as a formidable force together, both in our own legal community, and to the outside world.  Each of us has experienced success being on television regularly as a legal contributor or speaking on selected topics at professional conferences.  As a mother-daughter team, we are one of just a handful of attorneys who practice like this and thus we are always mindful of the special position we hold in the legal community.


Next? We will continue to develop our legal skills and possibly expand the firm.  Each of us enjoys riding horses together and we love to have free time to do that together.  Tif has convinced me to take as many Fridays off to ride my horse and share fun times with her and the family and, I must admit, it has truly been a great blessing for me to do so; kick back and relax with a four-day work week instead of five.  She showed me that the work always expands to the time allotted, it never ends, so being here 24/7 is possible but not productive.  Tif will continue to work on her certification as an immigration specialist and Nora will continue to focus on litigation and appellate work, both of which she enjoys tremendously.  Both of us like to teach, but time is often short and being adjunct professors is time-consuming, though rewarding.


Other thoughts to share? First and foremost: enjoy and relish the tremendous blessing that it is to share your passion with your child and know that she is just as passionate.  Rarely can family work together harmoniously and often children are forced to go into the same profession or business as the parent just because it has always been that way. Acknowledge the individuality of your child and that s/he may not approach the business issue as you might as a parent, but know that s/he brings new ideas to the table, often expanding the business with such a fresh attitude.  Respect each other, no matter what!  That is crucial and more than anything, count your blessings every day that you are privileged to share these days with your child, working and growing together.
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This article can be read in the Spring/Summer 2009 Issue of WE Magazine for Women