Finding The Right Immigration Lawyer For You
Immigration to the United States, either to start a new life or launch/join a business venture, can be a difficult and complex process to navigate.
Even if you’ve already received the necessary application paperwork, you may be facing a unique immigration-related circumstance and/or lack the confidence to go it alone. In such cases, it’s a good idea to hire an immigration lawyer and get some expert legal counsel on your side.
But how do you go about finding the best immigration lawyer for your situation, while avoiding the many unreliable and unethical solutions that are out there just waiting to waste your precious time and money, or potentially hurt your chances for approval?
Here a few good tips to follow during the evaluation and selection process to help you end up with a competent, knowledgeable immigration attorney.
- Choose an AILA-certified professional A good place to start your search is on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website. AILA is a well-respected, nationally credentialed association of attorneys and lawyers well-versed in immigration law. You can filter your search criteria on the AILA website, allowing you to find the names of immigration lawyers practicing in your area.Note that while membership in AILA isn’t required for an immigration lawyer, it’s a good a sign that you’ve found an individual who is committed to their profession.
- Ask your friends and family. There’s a good chance that you know someone who has already been through the immigration process, so ask them about which immigration lawyer they used. Inquire about the lawyer’s level of professionalism, their knowledge of immigration law, and their overall accessibility.This last one is very important, as an immigration lawyer whose bogged down with dozens of cases may not have the time necessary to give your case the personalized attention it deserves.
- Research. Whether you found an immigration lawyer through a trade association such as the AILA or simple word-of-mouth, you’ll still want to do a bit more research to find out how past clients feel about their legal services.
- Interview more than one lawyer. Although immigration attorneys can be busy people, you should be able to at least get in for a consultation soon as you request one. Some lawyers, mostly due to the massive volume they receive, charge for their first consultations while others offer free initial consults. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you’re willing to pay for an initial consultation.Additionally, you’ll want to interview at least two lawyers, in person, before making a final selection. This way, you can evaluate their working environment, communication style, and legal expertise up close.Questions to consider: Do they speak your language fluently? Is their office environment chaotic and disorganized? Is the receptionist affable and attentive, or rude and standoffish? Are they thoroughly familiar with the specific legal aspects of your unique immigration situation, or are they merely generalists? Are they offering promises, like a 100% guarantee that they’ll get your application approved?
Be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true or suspicious.
- Get their fee schedule up front. Some immigration lawyers charge by the hour to handle your case, while others will give you a flat rate. Be sure to get the fee schedule outlined clearly beforehand before proceeding.
Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2014 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.