How to Find the “Best Immigration Lawyer” for your Asylum Application or Case at in New York City
So, the other day our office received a call from an individual that had an inquisitive question about finding a lawyer to represent him with his asylum case scheduled to be heard at the Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York City. His question was pretty direct: “How do I find the best immigration lawyer for my asylum case at the Immigration Court in New York City?”
This was a pretty interesting question. The reason was because the answer is so subjective and open for debate. We tried to explain to the client that the term “best immigration lawyer” was subjective and depending on both who you ask and what you mean by the term “best” the answers can vary greatly.
The best analogy I was able to come up with for the client was to ask him questions such as: “Who is the best athlete?” . . . “What is the best car?”
So, if there is no one way to measure the performance of a lawyer, are there some things you can look out for?
In my opinion and experience, there are some questions and inquiries that are worthy of making:
1) How long has the immigration lawyer been practicing law?
Although this is an inquiry worthy of making, by no means should this be interpreted to mean that an attorney practicing longer is necessarily a “better” lawyer than someone right out of law school.
2) How many cases has the immigration lawyer handled?
Naturally, the more cases a lawyer has handled, the more “experienced” he would be. However, “experience” is only one criteria. It is never a substitute for hard work, preparation, diligence, etc.
3) Does the lawyer have support staff?
Why is this important? Well, for one thing, do you think it’s a good idea for your lawyer to spend valuable time doing administrative tasks instead of working on your substantive case? For example, the average asylum application package in my office usually entails documents that range between 100 to 300 pages. Now to actually file these documents, copies need to be made, the documents need to be put in order, paginated, etc. Do you think it makes sense for the lawyer to spend time doing this instead of preparing, researching and studying your case? Obviously, I have simplified this significantly for purposes of this article. There are many other tasks that support staff, such as paralegals and legal assistants, do extremely well and their contribution to the case is imperative and in some ways parallel the lawyer’s contribution. I can tell you in my office, the success of any cases is certainly also contributable to my support staff.
The point of this blog is that there is no one way to determine who is “the best immigration lawyer”. Any such determination is simply an opinion. One should always make their own inquiry after diligent research.