How to Get the Most Out of Your Attorney Consultation
Booking a consultation can be exciting, intimidating, and seem uncertain for what to expect. By following these recommendations, you will no doubt be ready to confidently book a consultation and figure out if you’ve found the right attorney to handle your case. Finding the right attorney is the first step in achieving your immigration goals. Before your consultation, there are some things that you can do to make sure that you get the most out of it as possible. Learn what you need to do below.
To make the most of your consultation, You Should:
Have a Goal
What are you trying to accomplish by meeting with the attorney? Are you ready to start working on your case immediately? Are you looking for someone who can handle the burden for you? Are you still trying to figure out what your next steps are? Be prepared to tell the attorney what your goals are and how they can help you meet them. This can also be a good time to discuss what goals you should be working toward. The attorney should have enough experience to be able to tell you how to prioritize your next steps.
If you are meeting in person, leave early and make sure you have enough time to travel. If you are meeting over video, check your internet connection and make sure that the link to the meeting is working. Be fully prepared to talk through your legal issue. A consultation is confidential and being candid is the key to getting the best solutions. Fill out any forms that the attorney has asked for or be prepared to provide basic information. Bring it to the meeting or preferably, send it back beforehand so they have a chance to review it ahead of time. We put a basic form in the request we send for documents, so everything is online and all in one place.
Gather Your Immigration Documents
Gather all documents that are relevant to your case and be ready to provide them. This includes your birth certificate, visas or visa applications, passports, marriage certificates, any communications from United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)/ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/ Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), and any documents that were given to you when you arrived in the United States. For our consultations, we send you a document request when you book your appointment to give you time to gather and upload your documents securely on the portal.
Be Honest About Criminal History
If you have ever had an interaction with law enforcement, don’t try to hide this information. You should bring a copy of the criminal citation or arrest record with you to the meeting. Also, if there is documentation that shows the case result, you should bring that with you too. When you file with immigration, they will ask for your fingerprints and your criminal history will be discovered. If you give this information ahead of time, the attorney can do some damage control.
Take Note of Important Dates
Let the attorney know dates, events, and other circumstances important to your case. An example would be why you left your country and if you have a sponsor in the U.S. If you are seeking asylum, write down specific dates because they are important for your case. If there is an immigration court hearing coming up, and you have been notified of that hearing in writing, you should bring a copy of the hearing notice to show to the lawyer. That way, the attorney can confirm their availability to attend the hearing. Tell the attorney if your case involves an emergency
Provide As Much Information as You Can
You are the only person who knows your case best. Any information you provide will bring you closer to a solution. A lot of times, the things that you might want to “hold back” end up being a key to your case. To avoid mistakes in strategy or unpleasant surprises later on, share every detail you have about your case, good or bad. Whatever you disclose to the attorney is confidential, but note, once you disclose something, an attorney is not allowed to withhold or lie on your application. It’s better to just be honest and work together to figure out how to fix any possible issues.
Be Patient and Thorough
During your appointment, you will probably be asked questions that you have already filled out on an intake form. Sometimes it can seem like you are being asked the same question repeatedly. This isn’t because they aren’t paying attention but because they are working to connect the pieces of the puzzle together. There are some legal issues that are very basic to understand and there are others that require a lot of analysis. This can also happen if your answers to questions are off topic or not fully answering the attorney’s question. Other times, some clients feel an emotional response to the questions being asked. This isn’t why the attorney asks those questions, but to fully understand what happened and how to help you.
Embrace Consultation Fees as an Investment
Don’t hang up or change your mind once you learn about an attorney consultation fee when selecting an attorney. Its understandable why you would have that immediate reaction, why should I have to pay if I don’t even know if I’m going work with this lawyer? There’s a couple of reasons:
1) at the end of the consultation, you’re going to have a full evaluation of your issue and options laid out for you to go forward. The attorney is providing you in-depth legal analysis within a crunched period of time and that requires a lot of research & expertise.
2) a consultation fee is how the attorney can tell if you are serious about your matter and decides if they will take on a case. Not all lawyers charge consultation fees, but the ones who do aren’t overworked & are more available to you. Consultation fees allow offices like ours to be selective with the cases we take so that we can provide top notch representation. This means we are more accessible & responsive to you throughout the process.
P.S.- once you hire us after the consultation, we automatically deduct the consultation fee from your legal fee proposal
Do Some Research on the Attorney & the Firm
Ask about the attorney’s experience! How many years have they been practicing? How many cases do they take on at a time? Have they dealt with an issue like yours? Check to see if they have been disciplined or to ensure that they are licensed by the state bar. Don’t hire anyone who does not have a license to practice law, this will usually cause you to spend more money than you should & leads to rejection. This can even gain the attention of immigration and lead to removal. A notario is committing a felony by providing legal services without a license to practice law & years of experience. Don’t become a victim to notario fraud.
Figure Out if You’re a Good Fit
Just like with personal relationships, both people need to be able to work well together. If your personalities don’t jive or the business model isn’t ideal, it’s okay to look around. For example, if you don’t have internet or struggle with technology, a virtual law firm is going to be a learning curve for you and it will be harder for you to work together. Many people have had consults and lack trust or chemistry with the attorney, or there are red flags that they ignored. This also proves true for attorneys. It’s best to discover this disconnect is in the initial consult, not weeks or months into the representation.
Check if there is a Language Barrier
You work best in the language you are most comfortable speaking. If you struggle with speaking English or are not comfortable speaking in English, it’s a good idea to find out if they accommodate other languages. Sometimes firms will have multilingual staff or have translators available. If they don’t, you may be able to provide your own but it’s worth figuring out how that will work long term.