When searching for an immigration lawyer it's important that you do more than pick the first lawyer that you see in the Yellowpages or the first one that pops up in Google Ads. Like virtually any other type of good or service you consume, lawyers are not necessarily cut from the same cloth. This doesn't mean that you should always pick a West Virginia Immigration Lawyer with twenty years of experience. Length of time in the practice of law is not always a great indicator of legal skill. To help you make your selection, I have discovered that there are at least 5 major factors to look for when you are searching for a great immigration lawyer. Here are the 5 signs that your immigration lawyer is just not worth the money:
1. they don't return your phone call.
This problem is very common. Almost every person who has ever purchased legal services knows what it's like to call their attorney if only to get an update every few weeks and wait sometimes days to get a return call from an agitated attorney. Or worse yet, the attorney won't even make a call. They simply have their assistant return the phone call. Attorneys owe more to their clients if you ask me. Any attorney who does not return a client's phone call within 24 hours is simply too busy to competently work your case. You should ask the attorney before paying them to represent you what their firm's policy is with regard to returning phone calls. At Cardinal Immigration, we have a policy that an attorney will not only return your phone call promptly, but we almost always answer the phone when you call.
2. They don't use technology adequately.
It's 2017, and a lot of things have changed. Despite the fact that many older attorneys are digging in and refusing to incorporate technology in their practices, technology is being demanded. This means that for the attorneys who refuse to update, they will be left with no clients and perhaps an early retirement. Immigration attorneys are particularly situated to leverage technology within their firms. For example, immigration clients must submit many documents to their attorneys so that they can prepare evidence for numerous filings. This is easily accomplished when the attorney can establish a secure client portal through which a client can upload electronic documents. Is there value in not having to wait days to receive documents? We think so! Consider how nice it would be also if an attorney, instead of requiring you to physically make yourself available for a consultation, would simply use tools like Skype or FaceTime in order to conduct a consultation. At Cardinal Immigration, we always use tools like client portals and Skype interviews in order to provide the ultimate value to our clients. We hate wasting our time, and we would never waste yours. Don't pay for lawyers who simply charge for time wasted by not leveraging existing technology.
3. They don't take the time to answer your questions.
Many lawyers today simply assume that clients don't care about the logic behind why the lawyer does certain things in their case. At Cardinal Immigration, we understand that clients are very interested to learn the reason behind a lawyer's actions. Your lawyer, in fact, has a duty to communicate with you as the client. They should be explaining, at least on a simple level, the law and how your facts relate to the law. You may want your lawyer to take your money and work your case and simply tell you when its over, and that's fine too, but we believe that lawyers should always error on the side of over-explaining their actions to clients. Knowing why your lawyer take certain steps can go a long way to creating a great attorney-client relationship. Never be afraid to ask your attorney why he/she does something.
4. They don't offer flat fee arrangements.
For far too long lawyers have been chained to the almighty billable hour. Today, consumers are much more savvy and are refusing to pay for extravagant offices and furniture or other ridiculous overhead expenses. Lawyers had better learn to change with this reality or risk being left in the dust. Many lawyers are offering up flat fees instead of billable hours or a mixture of fee structures in order to help clients afford their services. It also incentivizes lawyers to be more efficient in their time and work to get your case completed faster. Both sides win when efficiency and transparency enter the equation. At Cardinal Immigration, we always use flat fees or stair step fees to create predictability and value to our clients. Be very weary when a lawyer tells you that they only work by the hour.
5. They use an assistant to work your case up.
When you hire a lawyer, you don't expect that their assistant will be handling every detail of the case. It's understandable that an lawyer does need to rely on paralegals or assistants to handle many mundane tasks; however, any attorney who simply signs you up and never speaks to you until it's time to file the case is not worth the money. That's why one-size-fits all online, visa help websites, aren't adequate. These people simply aren't lawyers. They cannot help when things do not go precisely to plan. That's not to say that non-lawyers can't help, but complex immigration issues require a skilled attorney to help you avoid the unforeseen pitfalls that exist in America's complex immigration laws. Run from any attorney who relies too heavily on assistants to get the job done.
This is by far not an exhaustive list of warning signs to watch for when hiring an immigration lawyer in West Virginia, or beyond, but if you follow these 5 factors, then you will be well on your way to finding the best immigration lawyer you can. Of course, you could always hire Cardinal Immigration -- A West Virginia Immigration Law Firm to handle your green card, visa, waiver, citizenship, or renewal issues.
Seth Gaskins is a West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky immigration lawyer and founder of Cardinal Immigration, an immigration law firm providing legal services in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia and other underserved areas. Seth believes that immigrants in these areas are underserved and strives to provide these individuals with exceptional legal services that otherwise would require travel to big cities and large fees.
Seth S. Gaskins, Esq.