Immigration is a very complex practice and requires an experienced professional to get good quality legal representation. Your search for a good lawyer needs to go beyond the advertising in newspapers, magazines or TV. Time must be dedicated to researching immigration lawyers’ qualifications to find the one in your area who is going to help you with your case.
Here are the top 10 questions you need to ask an immigration lawyer before deciding to hire one:
1. Are you member of the State bar? A lawyer is a professional who has passed a state bar exam and is in good standing with the Bar association. For the state of Arizona, you can check here if she or he belongs to the Arizona State Bar.
2. Are you member of AILA? The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the national organization that advances the quality of the immigration law practice. An immigration lawyer needs to be in good standing to be admitted to AILA.
3. Is your office a general practice or do you specialize in some other aspects of the law? Some lawyers have a specialized practice such as the combination of immigration and criminal law, among others. Seek clarification on the type of cases they are engaged in.
4. How long have you been practicing law? Experience is very important, especially working on difficult cases. Filing documents does not need so much experience, but stopping deportations does.
5. What is your strategy for my case? Ask about the lawyer’s plan to work with your case and the approximate time each stage will take.
6. Who else is going to handle my case? Many lawyers relay the work to paralegals. Do not feel afraid to ask about the lawyer’s percentage of involvement in your case and who else will be in contact with you.
7. What is the estimated cost? Ask for the cost of the service including extra fees. Request a breakdown of the costs. Do not forget to ask about forms of payment and if there are payment plans.
8. What are the chances of success? Immigration law is not an exact science, but it requires skill to get the best outcome. Ask for a realistic analysis of your situation and possible outcome scenarios.
9. How busy are you? A busy attorney can be a good sign, but at the same time, it may take some time for the lawyer to act on your case. Request a timeline for your case.
10. When can you start working on my case? This question is especially important if the person in question is in detention or deportation proceedings.
Although there may be costs associated with a face-to-face meeting with a lawyer, we recommend making an appointment with at least two lawyers to compare answers and services.
When the case involves criminal charges, special care must be taken in selecting an immigration lawyer who has solid experience in criminal law.
Please consult our Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund guide to finding a good immigration lawyer by following this link. Good luck!