What Qualifications Should Someone Be Looking For In An Immigration Attorney?
An immigrant should ask prospective immigration attorneys three questions: whether or not they have practiced immigration law exclusively, whether or not they are an immigrant themselves and have lived the experience, and whether or not they have handled a case that is similar to theirs. Attorneys can’t guarantee a result, so they have to be transparent with clients by letting them know that just because a similar case had a certain outcome doesn’t mean that will necessarily be the outcome in their case.
The immigrant should also ask the attorney about their outlook, and try to determine whether they find the attorney to be trustworthy. If it doesn’t seem like the attorney is telling the truth, then they shouldn’t be hired. If someone’s gut is telling them not to hire a particular attorney, then they should listen to their gut. Some lawyers are good people and they want clients to sign up on the spot; I want this too, but I would rather be honest with clients and tell them everything upfront before they sign, because down the road, I want their family members to hire me too.
There are times when an attorney will need to refuse a client. For example, I spoke to a woman on the phone for almost two hours and charged her nothing for it, and I also waived her consultation fee because she said that she was being abused; I believed her, and I wanted to help. However, she showed up an hour and a half late to the consultation, which took up even more of my time. At that point, I had wasted almost $2,000, and the client still wasn’t respecting my time—she didn’t even call to let me know that she was running late.
What Is Your Approach When It Comes To Helping Clients Who Are Facing Immigration Issues And Are Seeking Status Or Citizenship In The United States?
The problem with most immigration lawyers—and I have seen this happen a million times—is that they give up the fight before it even begins, and they just admit to all of the charges in immigration court. This is akin to a defense attorney standing up in court and just saying, “I admit my client is guilty of murder.” I was once a new attorney, so I know that someone who doesn’t know the law is still liable for malpractice; attorneys need to educate themselves.
During removal proceedings and immigration cases, USCIS wants attorneys to just “sit back and be quiet” (they actually told us that at a meeting in 2017). Unfortunately, a lot of attorneys actually do stay quiet and they don’t fight. In addition, a lot of lawyers raise their clients’ expectations too much.
If my client is in removal proceedings, I am going to fight, and if the government doesn’t prove its burden, I’m going to file a motion to dismiss. My approach is to be aggressive, but not too aggressive, because sometimes I’ll get in trouble for that. My approach is to be honest from the beginning, and that’s what I expect from my clients as well. I fought the government for over seven years on a removal case until I won. I aim to be the biggest advocate for my client’s American dream.
What Sets You And Your Firm Apart From The Rest?
My dream is my client’s dream. A lot of immigration attorneys are either immigrants, or are married to immigrants, and there are a lot of immigration attorneys out there. I am set apart by the fact that I have not had an easy time reaching my American dream. I know when the American dream is good to you, and when it’s bad to you; I know both sides of the process. I know how it feels to fall behind or make a mistake that pushes the dream further away. I also know that the fight is worth it because I’ve been there; I was there when I got my green card, and I was there when the H-1B renewal process was taking longer than the government said it would. I’ve reached the mountain top of what I believe is my American dream, and I use all of my experiences to help clients reach theirs.
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