How do I Choose a Good Immigration Law Attorney?

It is important that you find an immigration law attorney that you can rely upon. You want a skilled lawyer that you can trust with your case and that has your best interests in mind. An experienced immigration attorney will have had extensive dealings with the U.S. government agencies that you will be applying to.

Unfortunately, a number of people have contacted our San Diego law office over the years that have had bad experiences with other immigration attorneys. That may be because clients’ cases were neglected, they were given bad advice, they could not reach their own lawyer, over money disputes, and the like.

Hiring a good immigration attorney can make a big difference to the outcome of your case. The following tips can help you to reach an informed decision about which attorney to hire.

Tips on how to choose a good Immigration Law Attorney

  • Check to Make Sure that the lawyer is an actual, licensed lawyer and in good standing with the State Bar

Every immigration attorney needs a valid license in order to represent you. The State Bar in each state is the licensing authority. The State Bar of California lists its members publicly on their website, as do the bars in most other states. Information about members of the State Bar of California is available here. If an attorney is a member in good standing then that will appear. If an attorney is a member with a record of being sanctioned or disciplined for certain behavior then that will appear. If an attorney has been disbarred and is therefore no longer legally permitted to practice law then that will appear. You want to know that important information before hiring someone as your lawyer.

Also, so-called “notario” fraud is a fairly common problem in immigration. Notarios often give people incorrect advice that can have serious negative consequences. People have also reported to us about giving their money to notarios who then disappear.


  • Check if the Lawyer is a Member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. Founded in 1946, AILA is a not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, and expertise through its 39 local chapters and over 50 national committees. AILA member attorneys may represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace. Some AILA members represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers.

Most U.S. immigration attorneys are members of AILA. Although some attorneys also practice other types of law as part of a general practice, it is usually best to choose an attorney that focuses only on immigration law. Not being an AILA member can be an indication that an attorney that does not primarily or exclusively practice U.S. immigration law. Click here to check if an attorney is an AILA member.

Attorney Joel Friedman focuses exclusively on U.S. immigration law. He has been an active AILA member for over 20 years. That includes the national organization of AILA and the local San Diego AILA chapter.


  • Read Reviews

Review sites can be helpful tools for you to assess a lawyer. Client reviews are from people who have worked with the attorney before. Client experiences can inform others about the level of professionalism, personal attention, and care of the attorney. You can read reviews from other people in San Diego about the Law Office of Joel Friedman on Yelp, on Google, and elsewhere on the web.


  • Consider More than Just the Lowest Price

Some immigration lawyers offer very low fees and you usually get what you pay for. Over the years, many disappointed clients have come to our downtown San Diego law office after having hired a previous lawyer that mishandled their cases. Sometimes hiring the wrong lawyer is a waste of your money and sometimes it can have even more disastrous consequences for you. You should consider more than just the cheapest price when choosing your immigration attorney.


  • Trust Your Instinct

You should be able to get a good sense of how you feel about the lawyer after doing your preliminary research as outlined above and then speaking with him or her. You should ask questions to determine the level of knowledge that an attorney has. You should be able to form a connection with the attorney.

Be careful of an attorney that overpromises or tells you how easy or how fast your case will be, to get you to sign up. And it is unethical for an attorney to guarantee to you a specific result or outcome for your case.

A good attorney will be interested in the details of your circumstances and your background. Individual cases must be carefully evaluated. Each case stands on its own merits. A reputable lawyer will be honest with you about your immigration options.

After you become a client, your immigration attorney should be your personal advocate. A good attorney will be in your corner and work zealously on your behalf to achieve your U.S. immigration goals.


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