Immigration Lawyer Checklist – 9 Steps to Get the Best Immigration Lawyer

Immigration Lawyer Checklist - 9 Steps to Get the Best Immigration Lawyer

 

If you knew just how important your immigration lawyer is for getting a successful outcome in your case, you wouldn't settle for anything but the very best immigration lawyer.

 

Think of your immigration lawyer as an expert storyteller, explaining your merits, credentials, and qualifications before a highly selective committee. The way your immigration lawyer organizes, presents, and explains this information is extremely important to getting your case approved.

 

What this means for you is that your case can be approved by working with the best immigration lawyer for your matter, or it can be denied based on choosing the wrong immigration lawyer to work with.

 

In this article I will go over 9 steps you should take before hiring your immigration lawyer.

 

By carefully following these instructions, you will give yourself the best chances of hiring the best immigration lawyer, qualified to handle your case.

 

Overview:

 

1. Work with a Real Licensed Immigration Lawyer

 

2. Run Away From Guarantees

 

3. Do Your Independent Research

 

4. Even if they are an Immigration Lawyer, Do They Handle This Type of Case?

 

5. Interview Multiple Immigration Lawyers to Find the Best One

 

6. Prioritize Accessibility

 

7. Get References from People you Know Personally

 

8. Hire an Immigration Lawyer Who Will Work on a Flat-Fee

 

9. Look for Value, Not the Lowest Price

 

Conclusion

 

1. Work With a Real Licensed Immigration Lawyer

 

First and foremost, make sure that you are working with an actual licensed lawyer. Its pretty shocking that I have to include this in my list, but the fact is, in the world of immigration law, there are many non-lawyers trying to capitalize in the industry.

 

These non-lawyers include:

 

  • immigration consultants

 

  • immigration service providers

 

  • immigration petition preparers

 

  • “do-it-yourself” kits prepared by non-lawyers

 

  • etc.

 

Do yourself a favor, and avoid working with all of these individuals.

 

Instead, work with an actual licensed lawyer.

 

You can check if your immigration lawyer is licensed by searching their name on the state bar website for the state they are licensed to practice.

 

For example, attorneys admitted to the State Bar of California can be searched on the State Bar of California Website here:

 

 

2. Run Away from Guarantees

 

The next rule is to run away from guarantees at all costs.

 

Let me explain what this means.

 

In US immigration law, there is no such thing as a guarantee.

 

No immigration lawyer can guarantee you any particular outcome with respect to your case.

 

Your immigration lawyer isn't the person actually deciding your case. They are the one submitting your case to be decided by someone else.

 

So if your immigration lawyer claims that they can guarantee you a successful outcome, this should raise a red-flag in your mind.

 

Keep in mind: There is a difference between an immigration lawyer sharing their history of prior approvals with you and guaranteeing you that your case will be approved. It is important to work with someone with a strong approval history. But, this is not to be confused with a guarantee of approval.

 

3. Do Your Research

 

I’m sure you already know about how important it is to look up information online about any company you plan to do business with. This definitely applies to lawyers as well.

 

There is so much you can learn about your immigration lawyer by searching online. For this section, I’m going to explain some different resources available to you, and how you can use them.

 

Avvo

 

Avvo is an amazing resource for consumers who are looking to hire a qualified lawyer. You should think of Avvo as the Yelp for lawyers.

 

You can use Avvo for all of the following:

 

  • Search for local immigration lawyers

 

  • Read a short biography on the immigration lawyer you’re interested in

 

  • See how long the immigration lawyer has been practicing law

 

  • View their practice areas

 

  • Read previous client reviews

 

  • Read endorsements from other lawyers in the community

 

  • See if they’ve answered any questions on immigration law topics and read they’re answers to determine their proficiency in the field

 

  • See if they offer a free consultation and if they bill on an hourly or flat-fee basis

 

  • See if the immigration lawyer is licensed and in good standing with the state bar in which they are admitted to practice

 

  • See if the lawyer has had any past instances of misconduct

 

Something to take note of:

 

  • Avvo has 2 separate ratings. One is the “Avvo Rating” which is a number up to 10. The Avvo rating factors in many things such as the years the attorney has been admitted to practice, the law school they attended, and attorney endorsements. The other rating is based solely on client reviews and is based out of a total of 5 stars.

 

Yelp

 

I’m sure you already know all about Yelp so I won’t go into much detail. But when reading reviews, pay close attention to what previous clients. Look out of any comments regarding how responsive, knowledgable, and professional the immigration lawyer was.

 

Google

 

Google is by far the most valuable tool at your disposal to do research on immigration lawyers.

 

Here are some tips for using Google to do research on potential immigration lawyers:

 

  • Run searches for both the individual lawyer and the law firm you are researching.

 

  • Put quotation marks around your search. This will give you more accurate results. For example if you’re doing a search on my law firm, Ashoori Law, run your search like this: “Ashoori Law”

 

  • Don’t just look at the results that show up on the first page. Do a thorough search. There are many companies out there that get paid a lot of money to suppress negative reviews on search engines like Google. So make sure you’re getting the whole story.

 

Google Reviews

 

Most businesses now have a Google My Business Profile. This is like a local business listing through Google, where clients can leave reviews.

 

Make sure to read these reviews and compare with other immigration lawyer reviews.

 

Lawyers Website

 

Every lawyer/law firm should have a website by now. You should go through the immigration lawyers’ websites that you are considering.

 

Here are a few things you should look for:

 

  • Professionalism - Does the lawyers website look professional?

 

  • Areas of Practice - Does the lawyer specifically practice the area of immigration law that you need help with?

 

  • Does the lawyer have a regularly updated blog? Reading blog posts is a great way to see what areas of immigration law the lawyer and law firm focus on.

 

4. Even if they are an Immigration Lawyer, Do They Handle This Type of Case?

 

Immigration law is very vast and complex. Just because a lawyer is classified as an immigration lawyer doesn't mean they are qualified to handle your case.

 

Within immigration law, there are many different areas of practice.

 

Here are just a few examples:

 

  • Family-Based Immigration

 

  • Refugee and Asylum

 

  • Deportation Defense

 

  • Employment-Based Immigration

 

  • Investment-Based Immigration

 

Within each of these areas of immigration law, there are lawyers who focus their practice on that one area.

 

When you’re selecting a lawyer to work with, make sure that:

 

1. Their practice is focused in the area of immigration law you need help with;

 

2. And/Or they have extensive experience handling your type of case.

 

In the beginning of this article, I discussed how one immigration lawyer can get your case approved and another immigration lawyer can get your case denied, based on their skill and experience.

 

One of the main factors separating the best immigration lawyers from the others is the amount of relevant experience they have.

 

So, when you’re interviewing different immigration lawyers, make sure to ask the following questions:

 

  • Have you handled this type of case before?

 

  • How many cases like this have you handled? How many petitions for this type of visa have you filed?

 

  • What is your overall success rate for this type of case? How many petitions have you gotten approved? How many petitions have been denied?

 

  • Who is going to handle my case? (This question is particularly important because you want to make sure that the immigration lawyer handling your case is the one with the relevant experience)

 

Remember, just because the immigration lawyer has a strong history of prior approvals, it does not guarantee that your case will be approved. But its still one way of evaluating the lawyers competence and proficiency.

 

5. Interview Multiple Immigration Lawyers to Find the Best One

 

Finding the best immigration lawyer is a process. You should not decide to work with an immigration lawyer until you have spoken to a few separate immigration lawyers about your case.

 

Discussing your case with multiple lawyers has a few benefits:

 

  • You can start to see if there is a consensus regarding how to handle your case

 

  • You can get a better sense of the legal fees to handle your case.

 

  • You’ll have a frame of reference to compare different personalities and see who you would prefer to work with. Keep in mind, you’re going to be working with you immigration lawyer for quite some time. It’s important to work with someone who you have good rapport with.

 

6. Prioritize Accessibility

 

Step number 6 is to place importance and prioritize accessibility. What I mean by this is that you should work with an immigration lawyer that you have will be responsive to you and give you access to them.

 

You are going to have questions throughout the immigration process and you’re going to want answers to those questions as they arise. The last thing you want is to work with an immigration lawyer who never answers your calls and who takes weeks to respond to your emails.

 

Instead, you should look to work with an attorney that will be attentive to your questions, make themselves available to you, and respond to you in a timely fashion.

 

Here are some tips on how to figure out how accessible and responsive your attorney is:

 

  • Read the lawyers prior reviews. You should ideally get a sense of past clients’ experiences by reading reviews. Hopefully, the reviews mention something about the lawyers responsiveness and accessibility.

 

  • Before you hire an immigration lawyer, pay close attention to the communication that goes on between the 2 of you. How long does it take for them to respond to your emails and calls? Are you connected directly to the lawyer or someone else like a paralegal or assistant? All of these interactions are a sample of what will likely take place once you’re a client.

 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask. When you’re talking to immigration lawyers, ask them how accessible they are and how long it takes them to return calls and respond to emails.

 

7. Get References from People you Know Personally

 

Personal references from people you know and trust are so important!

 

Online reviews are very helpful, but at the same time, they can only tell you so much.

 

Your friends and acquaintances can give you a much more complete, thorough, and truthful assessment of the immigration lawyer they worked with. This information is extremely valuable.

 

So for this step, ask around. Ask your friends, colleagues, and extended network of people you trust. The chances are that you know someone who has hired an immigration lawyer in the past.

 

Remember, this step should be taken in conjunction with all of the other steps mentioned in this article.

 

You should still make sure that the immigration attorney has experience handling your type of case, that they have good reviews, etc.

 

8. Hire an Immigration Lawyer Who Will Work on a Flat-Fee

 

Immigration lawyers usually bill their clients in either of 2 ways:

 

  • Flat-fee

 

  • Hourly billing

 

A flat-fee is a set price that your immigration lawyer will charge you to handle your case.

 

Hourly billing is where your immigration lawyer charges you on an hourly basis for the time they spend working on your case.

 

You should make sure to work with an immigration lawyer that is willing to charge you a flat-fee.

 

Here’s why:

 

  • If the lawyer you plan to work with is truly one of the best immigration lawyers in their field, they should be able to calculate how long it will take to handle your case, and give you a flat-fee accordingly.

 

  • By working with an attorney on an hourly basis, you never know how much your case will end up costing. It could be thousands of dollars more than you expected to pay. This is not something you want to deal with after your immigration lawyer has already started working on your case.

 

  • In my experience as an immigration lawyer, lawyers that charge on an hourly basis as opposed to a flat-fee typically collect higher fees overall.

 

  • Hourly billing does not promote efficiency. The longer it takes the lawyer to work on your case, the more they get paid. Also, for every email they review and respond to, and for each phone-call, they are billing you.

 

So to summarize this  point, save yourself the trouble, avoid hourly billing and work with your immigration lawyer on a flat-fee basis.

 

9. Look for Value, Not the Lowest Price

 

My last point is to seek value, not the lowest price.

 

There are many times when looking for the lowest price is appropriate. Hiring your immigration lawyer is not one of those occasions.

 

There is so much at stake when working with an immigration lawyer!

 

And at the same time, experience and expertise make such a big difference on the outcome of your case.

 

Working with the best immigration lawyer for your particular case can make all the difference.

 

So if you’re deciding between a few different lawyers, and the one with the most experience who you’ve determined to be the best immigration lawyer, is charging more for their services, understand that there’s a reason.

 

In the legal field, there’s a large disparity between the best immigration lawyers and those at the other end of the spectrum. Often times, you get what you pay for.

 

So, to sum up this point, exercise your best judgment and don’t just go for the lowest price. If the best immigration lawyer is the most expensive, ask them if they’re willing to reduce their fees. If not, you still may want to hire them anyways.

 

Conclusion

 

By now you should know that working with the best immigration lawyer for your case is extremely important to having a successful outcome.

 

If you follow the steps I’ve outlined here, you should be in a much better position to hire the best immigration lawyer for your case.

 

To recap:

 

1. Work with a Real Licensed Immigration Lawyer

 

2. Run Away From Guarantees

 

3. Do Your Independent Research

 

4. Even if they are an Immigration Lawyer, Do They Handle This Type of Case?

 

5. Interview Multiple Immigration Lawyers to Find the Best One

 

6. Prioritize Accessibility

 

7. Get References from People you Know Personally

 

8. Hire an Immigration Lawyer Who Will Work on a Flat-Fee

 

9. Look for Value, Not the Lowest Price

 

If you have any questions about anything discussed here, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m happy to answer your questions.

 

Ashoori Law is a full-service immigration law firm focused on helping professionals and entrepreneurs get visas to the United States.

 

Got a question? Lets talk!

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