If you’re like many people, you know that many immigration attorneys offer free consultations – but what does that really mean?
Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Free Consultation With an Immigration Attorney
What happens during a free consultation with an immigration attorney, what types of questions should you ask, and what kinds of answers should you expect to receive? Here’s a guide to getting a free consultation with an immigration attorney so you know exactly what to expect.
Is a Free Consultation Really Free?
Just like the name implies, free consultations are really free. Most attorneys set a specific time limit on these free consultations, but during that time, you’re free to ask any questions you’d like.
Does a Lawyer Expect to Be Hired After a Free Consultation?
No, an attorney doesn’t expect to be hired after a free consultation – unless, of course, you say, “I plan to hire you now.” You are always free to consult with other attorneys and see if you prefer their communication styles or even if you prefer their answers to your questions.
Additionally, an attorney has the right to tell you if he or she isn’t able to help you. Your free consultation with an immigration attorney is an opportunity for both of you to decide whether you’re a good fit.
What Happens When You Have a Free Consultation With an Immigration Attorney?
During your free consultation with an immigration attorney, you’ll have the opportunity to ask several questions. You may ask specific questions about your case or you may choose to ask about the attorney’s experience and background.
It’s usually a good idea to do some research on an attorney before you schedule your free consultation; you can get a lot of information from a good attorney’s website, including:
- How long he or she has been practicing law
- What type of credentials he or she has
- What his or her primary focus is
- Previous case results
11 Questions You Should Ask During a Free Consultation With an Immigration Attorney
You can ask your prospective attorney anything you’d like during your free consultation, including questions about your own case. However, here are 11 great questions that can get you started.
#1. How Much Experience Do You Have?
There’s no law that says you must work with an attorney who has a certain amount of experience. However, many people find it comforting to work with an attorney who has been in the field for some time. That’s because more experienced attorneys often have more background knowledge to use on cases, and sometimes, experienced attorneys have established connections with judges and other attorneys.
#2. Have You Ever Worked on a Case Like Mine? If So, What Was the Outcome?
Many people prefer to work with an attorney who has dealt with situations similar to their own in the past. The valuable lessons an attorney can learn from going through a process – often multiple times – can prove incredibly helpful in your immigration case, whether you’re filing a petition for U.S. citizenship or you’re fighting deportation.
#3. What is Your Practice’s Main Focus Area?
Some attorneys practice all kinds of law. One day they’re in court helping someone file for divorce, and the next they’re representing someone at a criminal trial. That’s completely fine – but some people prefer to work with attorneys who only practice immigration law. That’s because immigration law (like other areas of law) can be incredibly complex, and things are constantly changing.
A lawyer who focuses only on immigration law may be more up-to-date with recent changes, and may have more experience in immigration cases, than an attorney who practices in other areas of law does.
#4. Have You Ever Been Disciplined by a Bar Association?
Lawyers are subject to strict moral and ethical codes, and when a disciplinary action is handed down, it’s because that attorney has done something that violates one or both of those codes.
You should ask your attorney if he or she has ever been disciplined, and if so, for what. Only you can decide whether you’d like to hire an attorney who has been disciplined in the past – or whether you’d rather look for an attorney who hasn’t been disciplined for conduct.
#5. What’s the Best Strategy You Have for My Case?
Your attorney should have a pretty good idea on strategy for your case soon after you explain your situation. Some courses of action are statistically more successful than others are, and an experienced and knowledgeable attorney will know what’s likely to work in your situation. You can ask more questions about your case and provide your attorney with even more information to get a more detailed answer.
#6. Do I Have a Good Chance of Success?
No attorney can predict how an immigration judge or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will rule. You should beware of any attorney who makes you a guarantee. Instead, find an attorney who will tell you whether you have a good chance of succeeding and who’s honest about possible adverse decisions.
#7. Will You Have Enough Time to Give My Case the Attention it Deserves?
Some attorneys are exceptionally busy – so busy that they don’t have time to give your case the attention it deserves. It’s always okay to ask an attorney if he or she will have time to work your case after you’ve explained your situation. If the attorney doesn’t have time, he or she will let you know.
#8. How Will We Communicate About My Case if We Work Together?
Communication is key in any successful lawyer-client relationship. You’ll need to know how your attorney will communicate with you if you decide to work with you. Some attorneys prefer to communicate by email, while others only want to talk on the phone.
The most important thing is that you are comfortable with the way your attorney will communicate with you.
#9. Will We Enter Into a Written Contract?
Most attorneys will draw up a written contract that explains both of your rights and responsibilities. It’s always a good idea to get everything in writing.
#10. How Do You Bill Your Clients?
Many attorneys charge a retainer fee – that’s a sum of money that you give the attorney until he or she “works it off” using a regular hourly rate. If your attorney handles your case before working off the entire retainer fee, he or she will return what’s left over to you.
If your attorney needs more time to work on your case, you can expect to receive bills that reflect the attorney’s hourly rate.
#11. How Much Will It Cost to Hire You?
Your attorney will most likely quote you a retainer fee that reflects how long he or she expects to spend on your case. You should also ask what the attorney’s hourly rate is – that way, if your case takes longer to resolve, you’ll know how much you’ll be paying for the attorney’s services.
Do You Need a Free Consultation With an Immigration Attorney?
If you’re ready for a free consultation with an immigration attorney, please let us know – we’re here to help. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and learn more about your case. We can provide you with the advice you need to start moving forward.