Attorney Interview Guide

“Immigration law is a mystery and a mastery of obfuscation, and the lawyers who can figure it out are worth their weight in gold.”
-CIS spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar

How to Prepare for an Interview with an Immigration Attorney

Before the Interview

Assemble as many facts, documents and items related to your case as you can and take them with you to the interview. Be sure you have all immigration-related documents.

Organize your thoughts and state your needs as clearly as possible: be assertive. Your initial goal should be to find a lawyer with whom you are comfortable and at ease when discussing your particular problem.

During the Interview

Describe your position as thoroughly as possible so that the lawyer will be able to determine whether she can help you.

If you are not familiar with any words or terms used by the lawyer in the course of the interview, do not hesitate to ask for an explanation of them.

Ask about the lawyer’s expertise:
(a) Does the lawyer specialize in your type of problem?
(b) What steps are involved in solving the problem?
(c) How much experience does the lawyer have in resolving your type of problem?

Try to get an estimate of the time involved:
(a) Is the lawyer available immediately?
(b) What steps are involved in solving the problem?
(c) Approximately how long will each step take?
(d) Approximately how long will the whole case take?

Try to get an estimate of the expense involved:
(a) Approximately how much will it cost to solve your problem (including both the lawyer’s fees and other expenses)?
(b) How does the lawyer charge? Does the lawyer charge a flat rate or does the lawyer charge by the hour?
(c) Does the lawyer charge for all phone calls?

Sometimes a solution to a legal problem is simple and straightforward. Most cases, however, involve some uncertainties in both proving of facts, and establishing and applying the law. It may help to ask your lawyer such questions as:
(a) What are the potential difficulties in your case? Is the law clear?
(b) What can be done to help speed things up or reduce costs?
(c) What is the attorney’s communication policy? Can you communicate by email? What is the turnaround time for responses to your calls or questions? Does the attorney have an online case tracking system you can use?

After You Have Chosen a Lawyer

Be aware of how your case in progressing.

Keep in contact with your lawyer. Always update your lawyer on changes in your contact information.

Ask to receive a copy of all documents and correspondence relating to your case, and keep your own file.

Ask to be kept advised about how much the case is costing.

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