Common Client Errors When Choosing an Immigration Attorney

Posted about 5 years ago. 9 helpful votes



Shop for the best price versus the best attorney.

In the legal business, often the best price won't get you what you thought it would: the best attorney and the best service. In fact, you'll get just the opposite. This is because the attorney who charges less must necessarily deliver less or he will simply go broke. Take for example, Attorney #1 who charges $500 to complete your case. Because of his low prices, he has many more clients responding to his bargain basement prices. Meanwhile, Attorney #2 charges an amount which fairly compensates him for the time and expertise he will devote to your case. Attorney #2, necessarily will have more time to adequately review your case, suggest and work out strategies tailored to your particular situation, and most importantly, he has a vested interest in doing a good job. Attorney #1 meanwhile, has less of a vested interest, less time to devote to you (because of the larger client base) and simply cannot provide that same level of quality or service.


Fail to select an attorney with a more specialized practice in favor of one with a multiple disciple practice.

We've all seen the yellow page ads ~ lawyers claiming to be experts in a multitude of different and completely unrelated fields: personal injury, family law, bankruptcy, workers compensation law, immigration law. All things being equal, a practitioner who focuses on one area of law is more likely to be an expert in that field than one who practices in a number of different disciplines. Simply put, would you trust your foot doctor to perform your heart by-pass surgery? There is a big difference between a lawyer who specializes in a given area and who merely "dabbles" in immigration law, yet claims to be an expert in a variety of disciplines. It will end up costing you more in the long run. Immigration law changes constantly. It is an extremely complex body of law. You want to be sure to select an attorney who is "up" on the law as it pertains to you and your specific case. The bottom line - - an attorney who has to "get up to speed" is simply not cost-effective.


Choose an attorney of the same ethnic background without otherwise determining whether they are qualified.

While it may be true that the attorney of the same ethnic background can relate to you in ways perhaps someone of a different background can, the benefit of choosing someone on this basis alone simply ends right there. This is because clients are mislead into believing that the warm feeling of familiarity they glean from an attorney who looks like them or can speak their language also means that they are the best attorney for the job. This is simply not true and is like comparing coconuts to grapefruit. The one simply has nothing to do with the other. Choosing an attorney on the basis of their race or language ability alone may be a mistake fatal to your case. Your selection instead should be based on the person's expertise, competency, length of experience, their ability to respond to your needs and unexpected situations as they arise. All of which have nothing to do with a person's ethnic background or language ability. So beware!


Choose the attorney who simply tells them what they want to hear.

This situation generally arises with the client with a extremely difficult or sometimes even hopeless case (given the state of the limited immigration laws and available benefits today to many immigrants.) He or she will go down the list of yellow page ads, explaining their situation to the various attorneys they reach only to be told over and over that nothing can be done Then, BEHOLD! They happen upon the one attorney who promises to pull the rabbit out of the hat for them. What does the client do in this situation? He or she immediately runs out to meet this "CAN DO" attorney, plunking down a bunch of money (you better believe it will cost you!) only to learn (when it's too late) that the other ten attorneys had been right in the first place. Only, the client is now a couple thousand dollars poorer with nothing to show for it, and no closer to getting the result he or she bargained for. And worse, the "CAN DO" attorney no longer responds to their telephone calls.


Wait Until The Last Minute To Get Help

The reality is that immigration law is constantly evolving. This, coupled with ridiculously long processing times and Immigration service delays could result in long waits to get your green card, work visa or even travel permit. To avoid this common pitfall, you should act early and gather the documents you need to help your attorney to begin. Basic documents such as your birth certificate, employment information, marriage certificate, passport and visa, I-94 card and any correspondence from prior contact with CIS will usually be necessary. Remember, procrastinators never get ahead.


Think they can do it themselves rather than go to an expert.

As stated above, immigration law is an extremely complex body of law constantly in flux. With the flood of information available on the internet, including free forms, instructions and do-it yourself kits, the perception that anyone can be their own immigration attorney is more prevalent than ever. An attorney is someone who does much more than simply complete forms on your behalf. Their role is to analyze your situation from various angles, anticipate problems before they arise and provide the legal strategies and maneuvering to complete your case based on the best available information and current laws. Think of it this way, you wouldn't do your own eye surgery would you? Then why would you attempt to risk your future and compromise your options by dabbling in immigration law yourself?


My friend did this and got her green card in two weeks!

If it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. Unless USCIS made a mistake and didn't do their job right, it should take more than just a couple of weeks for such a valuable result. It is also best to rely on an expert than your next door neighbor's legal acumen for advice. All too often, however, people are desperate for information, and come to believe whatever they wish to hear, however inaccurate. The news media also plays a key role in distorting the facts. Immigration law is the most complex area of US law today, far surpassing tax law. Unless you find competent legal counsel in this area, chances are you are going to get the wrong information, and worse, your case will not get the attention and thorough handling that it needs. So when your neighbor says, "just do this and you'll get your card in two weeks," you should respond, , "Thank you! But my immigration attorney's got me covered!"

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