Finding the Right Immigration Lawyer in Grand Rapids – Part 3

This is my last installment on the topic of finding the right immigration lawyer in Grand Rapids. Part 1 dealt with some general principles of why not only having an immigration lawyer is important to giving you the best chance of success for your immigration case but also, the importance of finding the right immigration lawyer. Part 1 also gave you some things (homework) that you need to do before hiring the right immigration lawyer that greatly improves your chances of making a knowledgeable decision and having the confidence your chose the right lawyer.

Part 2 discussed the various factors in evaluating an immigration lawyer. These items are what I consider “must knows” in order for you to make the right choice. You cannot not be shy when seeking these answers. Remember, you are interviewing the lawyer for the job as much as the lawyer is interviewing your case. Do not ever hold back from asking the lawyer – your potential lawyer – a question that is important to you. No matter what the question. Part of the interview process should include your observations as to how the lawyer answers your questions. Does he seem bothered by them? Does he dismiss your question as foolish? Does the lawyer answer the question to your satisfaction? A good lawyer should welcome all questions. The lawyer should never seem bothered to answer any and all of your questions. The lawyer should answer the question completely to your satisfaction. The lawyer should ask if the answer does satisfy you. Finally, the lawyer should ask if the answer gives rise to new questions. The bottom line is that you are hiring a lawyer to help YOU. The lawyer is YOUR resource for information. If the lawyer is acting as if his job is simply fill out your forms and the less he hears from you is best — run! That lawyer is only interested in making a buck.
In Part 3, I want to wrap up and talk about the initial consultation and what to expect. Finally, I want to address the question, what do you do if you find the “right” immigration lawyer but, can’t afford him or her.

The Initial Consultation. The first step in hiring a lawyer is the setting up an initial consultation. Consultations can be in person at the lawyer’s office or over the telephone. I prefer an “in person” consultation. I believe your truly get a better gauge of the client and the client gets a better assessment of the lawyer. Often times, I get more information or a better understanding of the client from what is not said rather than what is said. Call it “body language” or “reading between the lines”, I believe you cannot get the best possible result from an initial consultation if done by telephone. There’s a good reason job interviews are done in person and I see no reason why an initial consultation should be any different. Do it in person. And, if the lawyer wants to do it by telephone when you insist on an in person consultation. Well, maybe you should move on to the next lawyer on your list.
Prior to the consultation, you will be asked to complete an initial intake form and have available documents that the lawyer feels is necessary to give you an initial opinion. To make the most of the consultation, it may be helpful to get those documents to the lawyer prior to the consultation so they can be reviewed and analyzed ahead of time. Consultations usually run anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
Most immigration lawyers do charge for the initial consultation. As it takes time for the lawyer to read through your documents and provide a legal analysis. Time spent on your case in these initial states is time not spent working on cases for other clients. Some lawyers will deduct the price of the consultation from their legal fees if you decide to retain them for your case within a certain period of time. At the present time, I offer a  free 30 minute consultation. This includes any document review and meeting with the potential client. Any time beyond the 30 minutes, I have to charge. That charge will be deducted from the client legal fees if I am retained within 2 business days.
What if You Just Cannot Afford the “Right” Immigration Lawyer? – Many people will just never realistically be able to hire an immigration lawyer due to the costs involved. The are sometimes still options that will allow your to utilize the services of an immigration lawyer. Many lawyers work with “pro bono” legal organizations in their communities and accept a limited number of no-fee or reduced-fee cases. Keep in mind that you may need to be screened by one of these community organizations to determine that your case is appropriate for a referral and to determine if you are truly unable to pay.
More and more lawyers are starting to “unbundle” their legal services and offer “a la carte” legal services. This means that instead of handling a case from beginning to end, a lawyer will prepare only parts of the case or simply provide the client with a lawyer’s expertise. Perhaps you want to submit your permanent residency application yourself but, would like to consult with a lawyer and have them review your application. A lawyer who unbundled their services might work for you to provide just the right amount of expertise you absolutely need and can afford. The practice is still controversial in some segments of the legal community, but organizations like the American Bar Association are openly embracing the concept. In Michigan, the topic of “unbundled legal services” or “discrete representation” has been examined but, it still makes many lawyers uncomfortable because of the special rules required when such an arrangement is entered into with a client. Although, while such “unbundled” legal services are not commonly employed, it is certainly worth asking about if you find yourself unable to afford full representation.
In conclusion, I hope that you have found the topic “Finding the Right Immigration Lawyer in Grand Rapids” helpful. Even if you’re not in the Grand Rapids area. The advice I’ve given you is universal. That is, it applies to you whether you are in Michigan or Oregon. The same advice is true wherever you’re from – a knowledgeable client is the best client. And, the best clients are those with the right lawyer working with them.
Again, I hope your found the information helpful and I hope that after reading this that you would seriously consider my office to represent you in your immigration case. As always, if you have any questions or want to set up an initial consultation, please do not hesitate to call me at 616-233-9300. And, please – if you like this kind of information, please share it with your friends.
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