You are about to hire an attorney to represent you and your family in an immigration matter which will be in one of the most important decisions of your life. Good lawyers are not cheap, but unethical lawyers are much more expensive. An unethical lawyer may even claim they guarantee your case while at the same time placing your status in jeopardy, prolong the separation between you and your family and causing you to be investigated by the INS and other federal agencies. Anyone can advertise. Not everyone practices law ethically.
In the past, I have mentioned how many immigrants have become the victim of employment agencies who offer legal services through recommended but dishonest and unethical attorneys who in turn illegally split fees with the employment agency. This fee splitting arrangement, known as “capping”, is criminal and is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
Usually, attorneys who participate in capping and fee-splitting arrangements are unable to sustain a law practice through legitimate means and most likely have a checkered history with the agencies and courts in which they interact. If an attorney is unwilling to spend the time and devotion required to build his or her own legitimate law practice into a successful operation, you must ask yourself if they are willing to spend the time and devotion needed to insure victory in your individual case. In my experience, the answer is usually no and that some of the lawyers today are plagued by a get rich quick mentality at the expense of anyone.
When hiring an immigration lawyer, bear in mind that Immigration and Nationality Law is a distinct area of practice which demands a proven and specialized knowledge of complex statutes and procedure. Consequently, I recommend that you hire a lawyer who practices immigration law exclusively and not a lawyer who claims to handle immigration cases along with his family law, bankruptcy, business litigation and personal injury cases etc.. Prior to meeting with a lawyer, I recommend that you research his or her background. Inquire with the State Bar of California. Ask your friends if they have heard anything about particular lawyers. Ask any other lawyers that you may know that do not practice immigration law for a referral. Along those lines, ask an immigration lawyer, if they had to refer you to another immigration lawyer, who would it be?
Attorneys who are willing to split fees with an employment agency are unlikely to practice law with dignity and civility. Attorneys who are willing to get rich quick at your expense are unlikely to conduct themselves in a manner the brings honor and credibility to the profession. Attorneys who are willing to commit fraud, are unlikely to be held in high regard by the INS, the Immigration and the Federal Courts.
Attorneys are officers of the court and are sworn to uphold the law. This duty is imposed on all lawyers when they are sworn in as members of the bar. It is perhaps the most important oath that a lawyer will take in his professional career. This oath naturally requires a lawyer not to break the law. When you hire a lawyer, you will sign a retainer agreement. This retainer agreement is a promise between you and the attorney that the attorney will perform certain services in return for a fee. The lawyer promises to use his best efforts to obtain a favorable result in your case. You must ask yourself, whether a lawyer who is willing to break the most important professional oath they can take, what is to stop him or her from breaking the promise made to you. The answer? Nothing.
Please be careful in choosing the lawyer that you want to represent you. A well-informed and qualified practitioner can inform you of your rights and properly advise you as to how you should proceed with your immigration case. You deserve to have an attorney whose reputation will add strength to your case instead of destracting from its validity. You deserve to have an attorney who is honest, who practices with integrity, and who has your best interest in mind.