Zachary M. Nightingale

San Francisco, California

Zachary M. Nightingale is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law. He is a 1996 graduate of Stanford Law School, who received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989, and a Masters degree in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1991. He has been with the firm since 1996. His practice focuses on deportation defense and federal court litigation, with an emphasis on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Other specialties include asylum, naturalization, and family-based adjustment of status. A significant part of his practice includes advising non-citizens and their attorneys as to the immigration consequences of pending criminal charges, and how to minimize those consequences.

Mr. Nightingale was honored with the 2003 Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for excellence in litigation from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He has spoken regularly at local and national conferences of AILA, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and was a member of AILA's 2002 Annual Conference Program Committee. He has litigated a number of important immigration cases which established new Ninth Circuit law, including Quintero-Salazar v. Keisler, 506 F.3d 688 (9th Cir. 2007), which held for the first time that a conviction for sex with minor is not necessarily a crime involving moral turpitude; Camins v. Gonzales, 500 F.3d 872 (9th Cir 2007) which applied retroactivity principles to find that the grounds of inadmissibility do not apply to returning lawful permanent residents based on criminal conviction sustained before April 1, 1997; and Li v. Ashcroft, 389 F.3d 892 (9th Cir. 2004), in which the Court overturned a finding of removability where the fraud evidence of conviction through jury trial did not demonstrate the required elements of the aggravated felony definition. In addition Mr. Nightingale has been co-counsel on a number of significant cases, including Abebe v. Gonzales, 493 F.3d 1092 (9th Cir 2007) (finding applicant ineligible for 212(c) relief for crime of violence, in the absence of a corresponding ground of inadmissibility), in which a petition for rehearing en banc is currently pending; Magana-Pizano v. INS, 200 F.3d 603 (9th Cir.1999) (establishing eligibility for relief from deportation for those in immigration proceedings before the effective date of the statutory amendments eliminating relief, and for those who pled guilty before that date in reliance on being eligible for such relief), and Barahona-Gomez v. Reno, 167 F.3d 1228 (9th Cir. 1999) (affirming district court stay of deportation for circuit-wide class of applicants for suspension of deportation incorrectly denied eligibility due to directives of Executive Office for Immigration Review personnel).

Year Joined Firm

  • 1996

Areas of Practice

  • Deportation Defense
  • Federal Court Litigation
  • Immigration Consequences
  • Criminal Convictions
  • Asylum
  • Naturalization
  • Family-Based Adjustment

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1996
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit


  • Stanford Law School, Stanford, California
    • J.D. - 1996
  • Stanford University, Stanford, California
    • M.A. - 1991
    • Major: Mathematics
  • University of California, Berkeley, California
    • A.B. - 1989
    • Major: Mathematics

Published Works

  • "Here We Go Again: Motions to Reopen, Reconsider, and Rescind Before the Board of Immigration Appeals", (Co-Author with Avantika Shastri), Bender's Immigration Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 15, Aug., 2006
  • "General Notes On Representing Persons Detained By INS, Especially Persons Detained Other Than For Criminal Convictions,", Guild Practitioner, 2002
  • Kurzban, Ira, ed., Immigration Law Sourcebook, 9th Ed., 2004
  • AILA's Immigration Litigation Toolbox: Essential Materials, Administrative and Federal Court Practice , 2005


  • Speaker, American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Speaker, National Lawyers Guild, National Immigration Project

Honors and Awards

  • Jack Wasserman Memorial Award, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2003
  • Named one of the top immigration lawyers by Northern California Super Lawyers 2008 magazine

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association, Member, Program Committee, 2002
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association, Member
  • Mentor in the Area of Immigration Court Litigation, Member, 2003 - 2004
  • Annual National Conference, Member, Program Committee, 2001 - 2002