Musings on Immigration

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DIY Immigration Lawyer: 5 Reasons Why You Should Not

The most common question I get from people with immigration issues is the question not being asked. When they realize they are talking with an immigration lawyer what they really want to know is: "Why do I even need a lawyer? Aren't you going to charge me an arm and a leg for something I can just do myself?" Coming from a non-professional baker who still prefers to knead her own bread, I can understand why people who are not lawyers consider this. Especially because when you seek quality legal representation you can expect it will not come cheap. But here are some reasons why hiring an immigration lawyer can be priceless (take my word for it, after all I am a professional advice-giver):

1.     First, good immigration attorneys can actually save you money.  I don't know how many times I've consulted with people who took the time to file forms or applications that were not necessary. They lose time and money and then some more money when they have to correct their mistakes. Let's prevent those mistakes!

2.     Second, good immigration attorneys will save your case. Not only will filing the wrong forms put you out time and money, but it could result in a bad situation for you and your family. Many recent immigrants from foreign countries that I meet face a reality check when they first arrive to the U. S. of A. Their Hollywood images of glamorous parties and everyone joyfully riding convertibles down tree lined streets are quickly shattered as they face the reality that is life as a hardworking taxpayer. Of course this rarely dissuades people from wanting to live in and contribute to a beautiful country they love and believe in, but in order to do so they have to be able to maneuver the laws that permit them to stay. So many good-intentioned folks end up in removal proceedings, separated from family for months and years, unable to work or go to school, simply because they preferred to try and take care of business themselves. In some asylum cases, mistakes can cost one the ultimate price: their life. The lesson they learn the hard way is there are some mistakes that are impossible to correct, no matter how much money or talent you throw at them.

3.     Third, when you hire someone that will provide you with quality service, the first thing they offer you is something invaluable: Peace of mind. I know how hard it is to have immigration concerns. I appreciate the feeling of insecurity and instability that comes along with that. You have enough on your plate as it is. But trying to decipher archaic immigration laws and regulations will not help your situation; it will only make it worse. This is not to say we don't encourage you to be informed and involved in your case. On the contrary - the cases with the best results were mainly from clients who were on top of their own case. But it's one thing to understand your case and be available and interested in assisting with the process and it's a completely different thing to do it yourself to maintain complete control over it. Please, for your sake, let go, keep watch, and let the experts handle it.

4.     Forth, it takes skill (and I'd argue it also helps to have a law degree). Attorneys are not just people who happen to wear suits and carry briefcases. To graduate law school and pass the bar, one must have vested countless hours studying, reading, writing, and practicing. Student loans remain with many of us for decades, an unpleasant reminder of this investment.  And the education does not end when the lawyer passes the bar. Continuing legal education is an obligation for every attorney to maintain their license to practice. We travel far and wide to conferences, listen to lectures in our cars, travel and volunteer at professional organizational events (such as American Immigration Lawyers Association), sign in to message boards, and read law books. It takes constant effort to keep abreast of the constant changing laws and regulations and to maintain our fitness to practice. Every hour an attorney spends on your case represents hundreds of hours he or she has spent on training herself to be an effective advocate. You can’t duplicate these results by simply reading a couple articles you found in your Google search, just like you cannot properly diagnose and treat a serious medical condition by searching WebMD.

5.     Lastly, and this is my favorite one, immigration law is one part science but the other part art. You cannot learn how to paint by just reading the instructions. You need to do it, and do it, and do it again. And you also need to have access to others who have done it; collaboration with other attorneys is essential. To be successful, you need to think outside the box and create solutions that are not written in black letter. A DIY immigration lawyer may be able to get away with a decent understanding of the black letter law, but the art involved is impossible to glean from a book.

I learned a saying when I traveled to the Middle East that translates as: "Give the baker your dough even if he eats half of it."  Don't take a chance on your case when there are good people out there that are skilled advocates happy to help you, save you money, and give you peace of mind. Experimenting in your kitchen may result in a bad meal or two, but experimenting with your immigration case can result in permanent emotional, financial damage.  If you’re on the fence about whether you need to hire an expert for your immigration case give us a call. We may not be able to figure out why your dough won’t rise, but you can rest assured that we are capable of handling your immigration issues competently and effectively.

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