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Hiring an Immigration Attorney

Overview

Many international visitors will seek to work in and/or emigrate to the United States. International visitors can pursue some of the following visa statuses:

UC International Services will prepare your H-1B, TN or O employment petition if you will be working at the University of Cincinnati. We will also process your request for permanent residence if you are a faculty member or qualify for the outstanding Professor/Research category. Please consult our website for further information about these services.

The legal procedures involved in obtaining employment and permanent resident status often require you to seek legal advice. This webpage is intended to offer practical advice on selecting an attorney.

Finding an Attorney

Although there is a list of local attorneys and a few national firms below, this is not an endorsement. You must interview the attorney and proceed cautiously in finding qualified legal assistance. Not every case is identical, so while friends or the internet may endorse an attorney, that attorney may still lack the expertise you need.

The location of your immigration lawyer is not nearly as important as you might think, since immigration law is strictly federal. That means it is the same across the country and a lawyer in one state is practicing under the same system as in every other state. Immigration law is almost entirely administrative as well. Most petitions are submitted by mail, and personal appearances by an immigration lawyer are becoming less and less common.


Contacting an Attorney

  1. Once you have made initial contact with an attorney, prepare to interview him/her like a job applicant
  2. If money is a concern, ask if there is an initial consultation fee. 
    • Some attorneys do not charge a consultation fee, others may have a special dispensation for students, and still others may bill you for the time they spend talking to you or charge a set consultation fee. 
  3. Attempt to speak with the attorney prior to your consultation by phone. This phone contact allows both you and the attorney to assess the merits of your case and to discuss the general fees involved on a preliminary basis. 
  4. Assess the breadth of knowledge the attorney has in immigration law, determine whether they can establish an initial report, have your general questions answered, and learn about fees. 
    • Most attorneys allow for some preliminary discussion, but are reluctant to go further due to time constraints and the need to know all the facts before rendering a full legal opinion. Attorneys are not permitted by the professional rules of conduct to give more than basic, general legal advice without a contractual agreement.


Meeting the Attorney

At this initial meeting, the attorney will interview you regarding your various immigration options. You should also take this time to interview the attorney. You should ask questions like the following:

  • How long have you been in practice? 
    • The answer may not always be indicative of the breadth of knowledge, as those in practice for many years may have become complacent, and those brand new may be very keen to increase their knowledge, and provide you with zealous representation. 
  • How committed are you to the field of immigration law? 
    • Try to ascertain what the attorney does to keep apprised of recent developments, which is crucial in the ever-changing immigration field. 
  • Are you a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)?
  • Are you active in various organizations concentrating in immigration law, attend immigration conferences, speak at conferences, or publish articles on immigration? 
    • We strongly believe that you may gain an advantage by retaining an attorney who is active in the field. Such activity is usually a good sign of his/her dedication to his/her work.
  • What is your particular area of concentration in immigration law?
    • While the lawyer may be familiar with all aspects of immigration law, he/she probably has strengths in some areas. If you are seeking an H-1B visa, you want to know that H-1B petitions are your attorney’s strong suit.
  • Will you do the work yourself, or will my case be allocated to another attorney or paralegal? 
    • If so, you should ask to meet that person. When the work is allocated, ask with whom will you have contact. Find out general information about the contact person too. The answers to these questions should make you feel comfortable. Otherwise your search for an attorney should continue.
  • Do you take individual clients? 
    • Many attorneys deal almost exclusively with corporate clients. By locating an immigration attorney whose clientele consists largely of individual clients, you will increase your chances of receiving personal attention.
  • Are you familiar with student needs? 
    • If you are dealing with an immigration matter related to your education, make sure that the immigration lawyer has considerable experience in this area. 
  • How do you set fees?
    • Most immigration attorneys work on a flat fee basis, though in many 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. Comparison shopping will serve you well.
  • Have you ever had disciplinary action taken against you? 
    • You will want to find out if the attorney has ever been disciplined by the Board of Professional Responsibility of the state bar. This is an obvious sign of problems.
  • How do you communicate with your clients? 
    • The number one complaint against attorneys is failing to communicate with their clients. You are paying a lot of money to hire a lawyer and it is your right to expect to be kept informed of the developments and have your calls and emails returned in a timely manner. 


More Tips for Finding an Attorney

  • Pay attention to a law firm's marketing and promotional materials. Evaluate whether the materials are professional and polished as this may be an indicator of how the firm will present itself – and you – to the USCIS.
  • Pay close attention to the ethics of your attorney. Do not use lawyers that tell you it is okay to lie or otherwise act dishonestly in your case. 
  • Be wary of attorneys who promise too much. Be nervous about lawyers who promise success. A lawyer who honestly presents the risks is worth a lot more. Likewise, be very weary of attorneys who claim to have special influence with the government or speak too negatively of their competition. Find someone you feel you can trust.


Local & Regional Attorneys & Firms

Douglas Halpert, Esq. and
Gregory P. Adams, Esq.
Dinsmore & Shohl

255 E. 5th Street, Ste. 1900
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 977-8200
http://www.dinslaw.com/

Doug Weigle, Esq. and
William T. Bartlett, Esq.
Bartlett & Weigle, LPA

432 Walnut St., Suite 1100
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 241-3992
http://bartlettlaw.com/

Michael F. Hammond, Esq.
3200 Carew Tower
441 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 381-2011
www.hammondlawfirm.com

Richard I. Fleischer, Esq. and
Neil Fleischer, Esq.
Cohen, Todd, Kite, and Stanford, LLC

1200 Chiquita Center
250 East Fifth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
http://www.ctks.com/

Jing Zhang, Esq. 
Wood and Lamping, LLP
600 Vine Street, Suite 2500
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 852-6086
http://www.woodlamping.com

Yanky Perelmuter
Attorney at Law
(513) 913-9545
yanky@yplawgroup.com
www.yplawgroup.com

 

David E. Larson, Esq.
Altick & Corwin
One South Main Street, Ste. 1700
Dayton, OH 45402
(937) 223-1201
http://www.altickcorwin.com/

Firooz T. Namei, Esq. and
Kristin Hoffman, Esq.
McKinney & Namei Co., LPA

15 E. 8th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 721-0200
www.themckinneygroup.com

Lea M. Webb, Esq.
Kimberly D. Iden, Esq.
George E. Fee, Esq.
Lisa Elliot Lee, Esq.
Webb & Pillich LLC

4225 Malsbary Road, Suite 206
Cincinnati, OH 45242
(513) 792-9322
http://www.webbpillich.com/

Christina S. Yager, Esq.
Katz, Greenberger, & Norton

105 E. 4th Street, 4th Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202-4011
(513) 721-5151
http://www.kgnlaw.com

Alan Spivak
2406 Auburn Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45219-2702
(513) 532-2201
http://www.alanspivaklaw.com

Marybeth W. Rutledge, Esq.
Attorney at Law

580 Lincoln Park Blvd.
Dayton, OH 45429
(937) 294-5270

Charleston C.K. Wang, Esq.
The Wanglaw Building
6924 Plainfield Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236
(513) 793-7776

Michael J. Zavatsky, Esq.
Taft, Stettinius, & Hollister

425 Walnut Street, Ste. 1800
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 357-9393
http://www.taftlaw.com

Mary (Peggy) Godar
Linda M. Keck, Esq.
Frost, Brown, & Todd

2200 PNC Center
201 East Fifth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 651-6193
http://www.frostbrowntodd.com/

Mary Joan Reutter, Esq.
6924 Plainfield Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45236-3799
(513) 791-6000

Staci M. Jenkins, Esq. 
Thompson Hine LLP
312 Walnut Street, Ste. 1400
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 352-6734
Website

Celebrezze Law
159 Crocker park Blvd. Ste. 400
Westlake, OH 44145
(440) 669-5914
Website


National Attorneys & Firms

American Immigration Lawyers Association
Immigration Lawyer Referral Service
(800) 954-0254
www.ailalawyer.com
ils@aila.org: confirm your attorney is an AILA member

Rund, Wallman, & Robbins, LLP
151 N. Delaware St., Suite 520
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 636-8631

Siskind, Susser, Haas, & Devine
1028 Oakhaven Rd., Suite 300
Memphis, TN 38119
(800) 343-4890
(901) 682-6455
info@visalaw.com

Masuda, Funai, Eifert, & Mitchell, Ltd.
Robert White, Esq.

203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2500
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 245-7500
(847) 734-8811
twhite@masudafunai.com
www.masudafunai.com