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. The most frequent question an attorney is asked is how long he/she has 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. The more pressing question is how committed the attorney is 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. Ask your attorney if he/she is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ask your attorney whether he/she is active in various organizations concentrating in immigration law, attends immigration conferences, speaks at conferences, or has published 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.
In addition to the level of dedication to immigration law, try to ascertain whether your attorney has a particular area of concentration in immigration law. Immigration law can basically be separated into family-based, employment-based and deportation-based practices. 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.
An initial discourse allows you to discover the attorney’s commitment to the field. When you question an attorney about his/her livelihood, note whether he/she truly enjoys the work. This passion will be replayed in gestures, intonation and ease in discussion of the parameters of immigration law as they relate to you. Obviously, the attorney’s work product will reflect such zeal, whereas those whose work is perfunctory may perform adequately, but may not stay abreast of changes that could have an impact on your case.
Another concern we urge you to raise is internal office protocol. Ask whether the attorney will do the work himself/herself, or whether your case will 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.
Pay attention to a law firm's marketing and promotional materials. Evaluate whether the materials are professional and polished or make the firm appear to be “fly-by-night.” How the firm presents itself to its clients and potential clients may be an indicator of how the firm will present itself – and, consequently, you – to the USCIS.
Pay close attention to the ethics of your attorney. Run as fast as you can from lawyers that tell you it is okay to lie or otherwise act dishonestly in your case. Aside from the obvious questions of morality, you are risking jail time and potential lifetime banishment from the United States.
Be weary of attorneys who promise too much. There are actually immigration lawyers out there who swear they have never lost a case even after a lengthy career. 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. Also beware of lawyers who speak too negatively of the competition. If the lawyer is worthy, they can stand on their own record rather than tearing down the record of competitors. Note: It is important for the attorney to be honest with the client and vice versa. Find someone you feel you can trust.