What Makes A Great Immigration Attorney?

I recently shared why I think immigration is important to the strength of the United States, which got me thinking about how I measure myself, as an immigration attorney, to make sure I’m doing right by the people I represent and who need my help. 

While most people might take to Consumer Reports when buying a car or CNET when buying new electronics, there unfortunately isn’t an easy and reliable resource for finding the “right attorney” for your needs, especially when it comes to finding the right immigration attorney who can help you navigate the complex U.S. immigration system.  Most U.S. companies and foreign nationals know that U.S. immigration laws are strict and that failure to have your petition or application approved the first time can lead to future complications in trying to work and live in the U.S.  I’m therefore often asked, what makes me the right attorney for helping foreign individuals obtain their desired immigration goals.

While there are many factors to consider when choosing any professional to work with, I believe that choosing the right immigration attorney comes down to three things: (1) does the attorney communicate with you in a way in which you fully understand what is going on; (2) does the attorney manage your expectations; and (3) does the attorney treat you with respect and try to understand you?

Communication

The number one complaint against attorneys is not that they did a bad job, its that they failed to communicate with their client.  You’re paying a lot of money to hire a lawyer, and its your right to expect to be kept informed about your situation in a way which you fully understand what is going on at all times.  Are you able to communicate easily with your attorney?  Are you comfortable asking your attorney questions?  Do you understand the immigration process in which you are engaging in?  I am aware of the effort, time, and money my clients are investing in me to achieve their desired outcome, and I believe I owe a duty to personally take every phone call and answer every email in order to educate, inform, and communicate with them about their case.

Manage Expectations

More important than just communication is honest communication.  It is the duty of an attorney to act as a facilitator to help clients reach their goals.  Ask yourself whether the attorney has presented and educated you on all of your immigration options or whether the attorney has made you feel like you are making the most informed decision.  The relationship I have with my clients involves trust and honesty, and most importantly candor.  I provide my clients with a frank evaluation of their possible immigration options, how long processes will take, and how much everything will cost.  In some cases that may mean there are no options or the desired outcome might take longer than thought.  Each and every immigration case is different.  Knowing exactly what to expect in your case will help you plan for your future and avoid surprises.

Respect & Understanding

People are not things, and everyone has the right to be treated with dignity.  A respectful person is an attentive listener, treats others with consideration, and provides honest guidance for people to make informed decisions about their lives.  Do you feel like the attorney (assuming you’re not speaking to a secretary or paralegal) is giving you the attention you deserve?  Does the attorney truly understand what you’re telling them?  Does the attorney even want to get to know you?  By taking the time to listen to my clients, talk with them about their long term immigration goals, and give them the personalized attention they deserve, they feel respected, that their priorities are understood, and that we will be able, together, to achieve their desired goals. 

Finding the right attorney is more of an art than a science.  Follow your instincts and feelings.  My clients have ranged from large businesses to small start-ups to individual entrepreneurs and families.  In each case, I realize that these are real people facing real immigration issues.  Choose an immigration attorney who truly understands the impact of your situation and will give you the respect, understanding, and attention your case deserves.