Hire An Immigration Lawyer: What To Look For
Things to Look For When Hiring an Immigration Lawyer
Keep this in mind when hiring an immigration lawyer…bad legal advice can be like bad medical advice – it can be chronic to your health and welfare. You must choose an immigration lawyer carefully; and when confronting visa issues that directly impact your family and your career you must be careful in your selection. A good immigration lawyer can give you strong legal advice that will last your lifetime, while a poor lawyer will just give you more problems.
The following list of factors may prove helpful in helping you decide on an immigration lawyer:
The number one complaint against immigration lawyers in this country is poor communication. It is your right to be informed of developments and have your calls and emails returned in a timely manner. When you first talk to your prospective immigration lawyer, ask yourself, “do they seem easy to talk to?”, and ask the lawyer, “how quickly do you answer my calls and emails?”. Your experience with your immigration lawyer is more than just the result of the lawyer’s experience and competency. A lawyer’s ability to communicate will mean that he is taking your case to heart. Find an immigration lawyer who really cares about your case.
Client References & Community Reputation
Ask family, friends or colleagues if they know any immigration lawyers. People are quick to recommend a good lawyer and even quicker to name a poor one. Also, has the immigration lawyer established a good name for him or herself in the community? If your immigration lawyer has a sterling community reputation, chances are it was earned through hard work.
Immigration Exclusive Practice
Many lawyers list immigration law as one of a variety of types of matters they handle. It is nearly impossible to be a top notch immigration lawyer while trying to balance being an expert in many other practice areas as well. Watch out for lawyers where immigration is one practice area in a list of claimed specialties. And within immigration lawyer, there are a variety of subspecialties: employment, family, asylum, deportation, etc. Consider going with a lawyer with a strong background in your particular type of case.
Has the lawyer ever been disciplined by the Board of Professional Responsibility of the state bar? This is an obvious sign of problems. The local bar is also the place to check that the lawyer is licensed and in good standing. Also, search for a lawyer on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website. AILA is a national association of lawyers and attorneys who teach and practice immigration law. AILA is probably the immigration lawyer’s best resource for up-to-date information. While being an AILA member is not a sure sign of qualify, it may indicate that the immigration lawyer is keeping up with this rapidly changing field of law.
Most immigration lawyers work on a flat fee basis, though in some matters, hourly billing or contingency billing may be done. If an attorney prices way outside of the market – either on the high of the low side – this should be a source of concern. There are great lawyers who charge more and lawyers who operate extremely efficiently who can charge less.
Years in practice & Educational Background
Normally speaking, the longer one is in practice, the better one’s instincts become. But the opposite can be true as well. Lawyers who have been practicing for years may become lazy about new developments in the area or new technologies. Some of the worst immigration lawyers in this country are the ones who have been around the longest. Also, while many fine lawyers have come out of mediocre law schools and lousy lawyers come out of the Ivy Leagues, where a lawyer went to school can still be an indicator of a person’s ability to achieve.
Caseload & Lawyer-Paralegal Ratio
Ask your prospective immigration lawyer if they are taking on so much work that there is no way your case can properly be handled. Also, how many paralegals do you see working in the lawyer’s office. If the lawyer has many paralegals, then that means the lawyer is pushing off important legal work onto their paralegals. A good ratio would be 2 paralegals per immigration lawyer.
Promise of Success
Be nervous about immigration lawyers who promise success. A lawyer who honestly presents the risks is worth a lot more. Likewise, be very weary of immigration lawyers who claim to have special influence with the government. No one has this special relationship. The existence of it is against the law. Government officers and lawyers go to jail when it is discovered.