A competent immigration lawyer can make the difference in your case to gain immigration benefits, be it a visa, protection from deportation, or citizenship. Therefore, it is imperative that you find the best available attorney.
There are many lawyers across the country, some competent and others not. Furthermore, numerous non-lawyers are offering legal services. Here are a few tips to ensure to find a good lawyer.
Ask People You Trust for Referrals
Usually, the ideal starting place is people you know and trust. Members of your family and friends may have engaged immigration lawyers in the past, and they can refer you.
If you know or have had a lawyer for other reasons, they can also refer you to competent immigration attorneys. Even if they don’t know any possible candidates directly, they are better placed to identify good lawyers.
Contact a Lawyer Bar Association
Contact the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) seeking a referral to an immigration attorney. This national bar association comprises highly qualified lawyers from across the nation, and you may find several potential candidates.
AILA has immigration subcategories, such as political asylum and visa. Selecting the appropriate subcategory can narrow your search to find the most suitable professional for your case.
You can also contact state and local bar associations. These bodies can help you contact candidate attorneys located close to you.
Do Some Online Research
Although bar associations offer good resources, they may not help you sometimes. In such cases, use the internet to research possible attorneys.
The internet is indispensable for background research, even if you have identified candidate lawyers. You can research to ensure the attorneys are adequately qualified to handle your case.
Moreover, you can verify the validity of the licenses of prospective lawyers through the internet. You can also find past accounts of their professional conduct and discipline.
Watch Out for Scammers
Beware of unqualified individuals offering legal services, especially via the internet. You may find persons referring to themselves as notaries or consultants in immigration. Avoid these non-lawyers by all means!
Note that notaries may be allowed to practice law in other countries but not in the United States. Here, they are only permitted to be witnesses in legal agreements. Therefore, avoid notaries to be safe.
Contact and Interview Prospective Lawyers
After identifying prospective attorneys from close contacts, the internet, or bar associations, make appropriate contact. Ideally, you should give them a call or send a brief introductory email. You can find the contact details online in most cases.
Be careful not to broadcast the same mail to all candidates. Such messages create an unprofessional image that most attorneys tend to avoid.
After successfully establishing contact, proceed to interview the candidates. This should ideally happen through short phone calls.
In the interview, briefly introduce yourself and your case. This engagement will not be charged. However, inquire about the fees and payment processes going forward.
If the interviews are successful and you have found suitable candidates, seek a written service agreement. Otherwise, start the search process again. Don’t settle for an incompetent lawyer.
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A good lawyer will increase the chances of a positive outcome from your immigration case. Therefore, do all in your power to access the best available attorney.
Don’t be afraid to search over and over again if you fail to find a lawyer that meets your needs. You can still take your legal needs elsewhere even if you have selected an attorney.