7 Key Considerations When Choosing Your Immigration Attorney
When your right to live and thrive on American soil is challenged, your best defender is an immigration attorney. Expert attorneys have trained for years, perfecting their craft to ensure they can protect your rights and fight for justice. Further, lawyers can monitor court and application proceedings, guiding you through every step of the process. Without a doubt, this avoids unnecessary delays or errors which may lead to denial and heartbreak.
In this article, we walk you through some key items to consider when you are looking for an immigration lawyer. You’ll learn crucial ways to start looking for an attorney, how to utilize the internet to aid your search, what scams to avoid, and what types of questions to ask in your initial consultation(s). Keep reading!
1. Talk to Friends and Family
If you hope to hire an immigration attorney, your friends and family are a priceless resource. You should start your search by discussing your needs with those who know you best. If they’ve also had immigration issues or needed guidance with an application, they’ll likely be able to help you. Perhaps, they worked with an excellent attorney and can provide a recommendation. Whatever information you receive about any immigration attorneys, whether positive or negative, write it down. You’ll likely need that information later!
2. Use the Internet
When searching for an experienced immigration attorney, the internet is an irreplaceable tool. Start by utilizing a major search engine like Google or Yahoo and try to find some potential immigration attorneys in your area. Write down every lawyer that might be a good fit – you can always narrow the list later with further research. You should also consult the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which has an excellent virtual database to help you find the right lawyer. You can access their immigration lawyer search here.
Remember, while the internet is without a doubt an excellent tool, it can also be dangerous. Do your best to avoid scams and never exchange money over the internet. Avoid any person who is a “visa consultant” or a “notario” – these people are not qualified lawyers and cannot lawfully provide legal guidance, representation, or assistance. Only lawyers certified by and registered with your state’s bar association are qualified to help you.
- Utilize search engines to identify immigration law firms and lawyers in your area.
- Visit the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and use the immigration lawyer finder.
- Utilize customer feedback sites like Yelp or Google reviews to learn more about any law firm you’re interested in. How do previous and current customers feel?
- Check out any potential law firms on their social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
- Be aware of any potential scams on the internet, including “notarios.”
- Take notes of any information you find and begin to create a list of potential lawyers.
3. Essential Qualifications
As discussed above, you should only hire a qualified immigration attorney (registered with your state’s bar association) to handle your case. Immigration lawyers, especially those with additional specializations and certifications, have studied and worked for years to hone and perfect their craft. They will be skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced, which will increase your chances for success. Pay attention to how long an attorney has worked in immigration law and note if they have any additional specializations.
While qualified attorneys services will likely cost more, they are worth every penny. Proper legal representation increases your chances for a successful case outcome.
4. Language Services
If you do not speak English or cannot speak it well, it is essential that you find an attorney who can talk with you one-on-one. If your attorney doesn’t speak your language, or doesn’t have a paralegal able to translate for you, it will be difficult for them to fully understand your needs, hopes, and goals. This can lead to miscommunications and errors that could devastate your case and disrupt your life. Most attorneys’ websites will list their language skills and specializations so that you can narrow down your final list without issue.
Immigration attorneys are very busy – they spend their time balancing client meetings, consultations, and court dates. While they are constantly on the go, you should always feel confident that you can contact your attorney during an urgent situation. If you have trouble initially reaching the law firm, the attorney, or their paralegals, take note – it may be difficult to reach them even if you are a client. This could be a serious problem if you have a legal emergency, like arrest or detainment.
Also, you want to consider an attorney’s physical location. During your case, you will likely have to visit their offices several times, maybe even more. Will it be highly inconvenient to travel there? Or will it be a simple and easy trip? Factor location and ease of access into your final decision – these will make your experience less stressful.
6. Schedule a Consultation
After compiling your list of prospects, it’s time to start contacting lawyers. Most law firms will make it very easy for you to contact them either by phone or through their website (or both). Start inquiries and begin to schedule initial consultations with attorneys at each firm. While many reputable immigration law firms will provide free consultations, be prepared to pay a small fee if necessary. Typically, initial consultations will last roughly 30 minutes.
When you arrive to your consultation, make sure to bring all materials relevant to your case. Organize and label your information before placing it in a folder. This will make it simple for the consulting attorney to understand and read. That way, you will have as much time as possible to talk with them and ask questions.
During your initial consultation, you will probably hear some potential options for your case. Be wary of anyone who promises or guarantees a specific outcome. In today’s volatile immigration sector, no decision can be guaranteed. Expert attorneys will never mislead you and will explain several likely options based on your case information.
Finally, don’t be shy when you talk with lawyers and paralegals. Prepare a list of questions for each law firm and make sure you discuss these during your initial consultation. In order to help guide your search, we’ve included a list of questions below.
Questions for Immigration Attorneys
- How can I contact you during an emergency?
- What are your qualifications?
- Where did you attend law school?
- Do you practice any other types of law?
- How many people at your firm speak my language? (if applicable)
- How much will your services cost?
- Do you charge a flat fee or an hourly rate?
- What are the potential outcomes of my case?
- Do you have any previous clients whom I can speak with?
- Are you licensed to practice in my state?
7. Take Notes
Throughout your journey, make sure that you take detailed notes. By recording all relevant information you discover, you will make your final decision easier. This is especially true if you plan to meet with several attorneys. Without a doubt, it can quickly become difficult to keep information and data organized without proper notes. When it is time to make a decision, refer to your notes and weigh every option carefully.
During consultations with attorneys, it may be difficult to take notes. You will likely want to pay close attention to everything that they discuss regarding your case. In this instance, consider bringing a friend or family member to your consultation with you. That way, you can focus on your case and they can ensure you have detailed notes for later.
Making Your Final Decision
When you have gathered enough information about your potential attorneys and have talked with them during initial consultations, it’s time to make a final decision. Collect all notes and information and consider every aspect of your case. Will your attorney be easy to access? Are they close to your home or place of business? Were they professional and friendly? Did they explain potential outcomes regarding your case? Do they specialize only in immigration law?
When you take your time and consider every option, you can be confident in your decision. Then, you can move forward and begin to build your future!
Contact an Expert Dallas Immigration Lawyer Today
Davis & Associates is the premier immigration law firm in Dallas, Texas. Our attorneys serve thousands of immigrants throughout Texas. We work tirelessly to defend the rights of every client and can help even in the most dire situations. Contact us today – our initial consultations are always free.