It is important to seek competent legal counsel when dealing with immigration issues. We would like to give you a good idea of what to expect from your attorney, and how to act toward your attorney in order to develop a good, solid, and potentially successful professional relationship that will culminate in your attainment of your immigration objectives.
There are seven principles that should guide you in your relationship with your attorney.
- Professionalism: You have every right to expect loyalty, commitment, and professionalism from your attorney. Those are ethical principles. They are the same principles that guide you in your medical practice.
- Obligation of dual representation: Most immigration cases involve the attainment of immigration status based on employment. And in order to attain a successful outcome, the physician needs to work through the immigration case in conjunction with the employer. It is based on employment. Similarly, the lawyer, your immigration legal counsel, has something called the obligation of dual representation. That is, your immigration lawyer owes loyalty and commitment to both you and to your employer. Your attorney cannot take any action prejudicial either to you or to your employer. And it is premised on the fact that both you and your employer have a common objective of obtaining your immigration objective.
- Attorney-client privilege: Fundamental to a professional relationship with an attorney is the notion of an attorney-client privilege; quite similar to a physician-patient privilege. That is, the relationship you establish with your lawyer is personal and confidential. It should be a close and open professional relationship. An attorney cannot divulge any information or documentation to any third party, a government agency or any other party without the full knowledge and acquiescence of the client. It is formulated precisely in order to encourage full and open considerations and sharing of information.
- Honesty: It is extremely important for you as the client to fully express yourself to share even compromising elements of your own personal background. An attorney should simply be inquiring on these types of incidents in your life for the purpose of best representing you during your immigration case. Being honest ultimately accrues to your own benefit.
- Copies of documents: You have the right to expect copies of all filing and correspondence made on your behalf. It is your file and your professional future. You have every right to receive a full copy of filings, correspondence, and any other written work that pertains to your case.
- Asking for updates: You have every right to expect and receive full and clear explanations on the strategy being undertaken and the timetable of your case, on actions which have been accomplished and actions that have yet to transpire. Do not be afraid to ask your immigration attorney for updates on your case and for clarifications to what is transpiring. Your e-mails should be promptly answered. Your phone calls should be promptly responded to. If you are not getting explanations, you should request them from your immigration legal counsel.
- Understanding fees: You have every right to understand the basis under which you are being charged for professional services. Many attorneys charge flat fees for which they take in all the facts of the case, design a strategy, and provide set fees. Other attorneys charge by the hour. Whatever the arrangement is, you have every right to understand the billing philosophy and receive full and fully understandable justification for any billing statements that have been sent to you.
In short, in working with an immigration attorney, you are entering into a very special relationship with a fully skilled, fully competent professional. Just like you are a professional in the field of medicine, you have every right to insist on full and clear professional standards of conduct from your immigration representative.
This article is included to inform you, in general, about U.S. immigration law. The information contained herein is not intended to provide solutions to individual problems. Thus, it cannot be relied on as legal advice. We caution you to not attempt to solve individual problems on the basis of this information and advise you to seek competent legal counsel to address your specific issues.