20 Dec What Should You Ask When You Meet With an Immigration Lawyer?
Many lawyers will require a consultation before they agree to take your case. During this time, your prospective attorney will likely ask you many questions to ascertain more information about your immigration status and goals for citizenship. During this evaluation, the attorney will be evaluating your unique case to determine how likely you are to succeed in your efforts and whether or not your case is considered “actionable.” However, the consultation is also an excellent opportunity for you to get to know your prospective attorney’s experience, background, and legal bedside manner.
Below you’ll find a few questions to ask when meeting with an immigration attorney for the first time.
Do You Specialize in Immigration Law?
When looking for an immigration attorney, you’ll want to find someone specializing in this area of the law. Some law firms will include immigration law in their areas of practice, but if it’s not their specialty, they may need to play catch up on areas changes to immigration law. Immigration law is a fast-paced specialty; new rules and regulations are rolled out regularly, so if it’s not a firm’s primary area of focus, its lawyer may be more likely to miss small details and updates to immigration law.
If you are looking for an immigration attorney, you should confirm that your prospective attorney has recent experience handling:
- Family-Based Visas
- Green cards and visas
- Removal and Deportation Defense
You may also want to ask if they maintain active membership in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA membership shows that your attorney prioritizes being in community with leaders in immigration law reform, staying up to date with new developments, and holding themselves to best practices. This is also a good opportunity to ask about any other organizations they may be a part of, if they’ve participated in any continuing education programs, or have a plan in place for keeping track of recent changes in immigration law.
Does Your History Include Any Reprimands or Discipline for Dishonesty?
Unfortunately, many people fail to ask this question altogether, but it’s an important one. You won’t want to work with an attorney who has a history of being reprimanded or has been disciplined for dishonesty. While there are obvious character implications regarding dishonesty, it’s also important to think about this question in the context of your case. If you knowingly work with a dishonest lawyer and they behave dishonestly while working on your case, it can hurt your case.
In addition to asking prospective attorneys directly, you can also check a lawyer’s disciplinary record yourself. It may also be helpful to check online reviews. Remember that you are paying any attorney you hire with your hard-earned money, and you have every right to be discerning about your decision.
Have You Handled Many Cases Similar to Mine? How Many of These Cases Have You Won?
When you choose an attorney specializing in immigration law, the answer to this question should be evidence of diverse experience and a history of winning favorable outcomes. It’s essential to ask about your prospective attorney’s track record and how many cases they have handled like yours.
It’s a red flag if your attorney makes grandiose promises or tries to convince you of a guaranteed win. The best answer to this question will instill confidence while reminding you that there are complexities to every case. You can also ask about how long they have practiced immigration law. If it’s a newer specialty, your attorney may not have had the years of experience necessary to build rapport and working relationships with members of the court and immigration officers.
Do You Have an Idea of the Best Strategy for My Case?
As mentioned above, much of the first consultation with your lawyer will be about your case. Once you have provided them with sufficient information, you should ask about their strategy for your case. The best strategy will include a timeline, set your expectations for deliverables, and a clear plan of action.
Asking about strategy and previous experience will also give you a better understanding of whether or not this attorney has enough time to represent you adequately. Many immigration attorneys are overworked and very busy, which can be reflected in their quality of work on your specific case.
How Much Will It Cost to Represent Me?
This question is perhaps the most important. If you decide an attorney is a good fit for you, you will need to hammer out the financial details for your case. Qualified attorneys will have a retainer fee as well as hourly charges for when they are working on your case. You’ll also want to know how often you can expect to be billed for their services. Sometimes attorneys will offer payment plans, so it’s important to inquire about this as well.
There may also be additional fees for services such as sending emails, making copies, and leaving messages on your behalf.
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