Immigration Law Center, L.L.C.
P.O. Box 11032
Montgomery, Alabama 36111-0032 USA

Telephone: (334) 832-9090
Send email: CLICK HERE

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How to consult us and get help

Copyright by Boyd F. Campbell, All Rights Reserved

How to find, hire, and work with a U.S. immigration lawyer

Attorney and Civil Law Notary

    Selecting a good immigration lawyer or the best one you can find is very much like selecting a good doctor or any other professional to help you. The time to find the right one is when you don't need one. Unfortunately, many of us don't even begin to think of looking for legal help until a need arises.
    Having a qualified immigration lawyer on your team -- someone you know, trust, and can call when you have questions or a problem -- can provide a great deal of peace of mind, even to foreign nationals who prefer to handle some legal matters on their own without the advice of an immigration lawyer. Some businesses, wealthy people, and a few people who seem to need help all the time, may need to keep an immigration lawyer on retainer, but most people find it better to pay an immigration lawyer a retainer and an hourly rate for the legal services he provides on an as-needed basis.
    I handle legal matters involving private international law, immigration and nationality law, international labor and employment law, cross-border hiring and permitting of labor, and visas for professionals and researchers.  Because I have experience in dealing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security, with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and with courts and administrative proceedings, I can help you keep your legal affairs in order and can refer you to other attorneys whom I know and trust, if that becomes necessary.  I refer many callers to my colleagues around the United States because it is in my best interests to make sure that your best interests are properly cared for.  I also provide direction in commercial transactions and foreign investments, and work with civil law notaries (called Notario Publico in Spanish-speaking countries, Notar in Germany, Notaire in France, or simply "Latin notary") in other countries.
    I sometimes associate other lawyers with a given case when I believe it is in my clients' best interests to do so, but that doesn't come up very often, and the client has final approval over any association of another lawyer to handle any legal matter. If you decide not to choose me to serve as your legal counsel, I strongly urge you to find the lawyer who best meets your legal needs.  For a list of things that immigration lawyers can do for you, please click on the following link:  Why hire an immigration lawyer?

Finding the right lawyer

    Finding the right lawyer is probably the most important decision you will make in addressing a legal matter.  Talking with a friend, associate, or family member who is a satisfied client of a lawyer is usually the best way to get a good recommendation, and word of mouth is the best place to start.  Even if you are a new resident of the United States, you will find that your business associates, neighbors, accountants, fellow church members, and sometimes bank employees will recommend the name of a trusted lawyer.  If you are a foreign national, however, it is likely that the people you ask for a recommendation will not be familiar with your special needs, so please beware.  Make sure that the recommendations you get from friends or acquaintances are based on a prior business relationship with the lawyer and not on a personal one, or because the lawyer is simply associated with your friends' or acquaintances' business interests.  And make sure that your friend or acquaintance consulted the lawyer about an immigration or visa matter.  The practice of U.S. immigration and nationality law is highly specialized and complex.  And please remember this:  USCIS treats forms filed with its district offices and service centers as legal cases submitted to the federal agency for adjudication under the federal Administrative Procedures Act and its own regulations.
    If you decide not to hire me, and you can't find a lawyer based upon the personal recommendation of a friend or acquaintance, we urge you to contact a State Bar lawyer referral service in the state where you live.  If your legal matter involves U.S. immigration and nationality law, I urge you to contact the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) , for a referral.  Generally, State Bar referral service lawyers must be in good standing and have appropriate malpractice insurance coverage before being listed with a State Bar lawyer referral service.  Also, the national headquarters of AILA in Washington, D.C., is very familiar with the experience levels of its member lawyers in all 50 states, and in some foreign countries, and is a valuable referral resource.
    When you call the State Bar, tell the State Bar employee who answers your call that you want the "lawyer referral service."  When you get someone with the lawyer referral service on the telephone, tell the person what type of legal problem you have (don't give the person lots of facts or a long story; tell it to the lawyer later) and you will be given the name and telephone number of a lawyer near you.  Generally, a State Bar referral service lawyer is required to provide you with a low-cost, initial legal consultation.
    If you exhaust all other avenues in your search, you may find a lawyer through advertisements in the telephone book "Yellow Pages," or in a newspaper.  Searching the "Yellow Pages," even though you find advertisements from many lawyers there, is not necessarily a good method to use to find an immigration lawyer to meet your legal needs.  The best immigration lawyers often do not advertise their services. They don't have to.  Even lawyers who do not place big, full-page display advertisements are usually listed in the "Yellow Pages," however.
    Regardless of the method you use to get names and telephone numbers of immigration lawyers, you should interview them before making a final selection. You may be charged $50 or more for an initial consultation, but this is a very inexpensive way to find the right lawyer to meet your legal needs. Remember, that the purpose of your visit is to interview the lawyer.  Don't be afraid to ask questions about his or her practice, staff, fees and expenses, and especially experience in handling the legal matter you think will come up later or are dealing with now.  If you are looking for a qualified immigration lawyer to help you with a family immigration matter, for example, it would be a good idea to take your spouse and possibly an older child along, because they may deal with the lawyer as much as, or more than, you will.
    It is proper to ask the lawyer whether he or she is a member in good standing of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  Frankly, I could not keep up with fast-changing federal laws, regulations, policies, and procedures of the dozen or so federal agencies I deal with if I were not a member of AILA.  And I refer callers from other parts of the United States only to AILA members.

Small firm or large firm?

    Many people ask whether a small firm or a large firm is best. There are good lawyers in firms of all sizes, including solo practitioners, and there are advantages and disadvantages in both small and large firms.  You may want to choose a small law firm with practitioners whose skills overlap, giving them the ability to care for each other's clients should an illness, emergency, or vacation make it impossible for one of them to handle a particular legal matter in a timely fashion. If you are interested in choosing a sole practitioner, you should find out how the sole practitioner handles matters for his clients when he or she is ill or on vacation. Sometimes finding a lawyer who is right for you may be just a matter of luck, but by following these recommendations, you may increase your chances of finding the right lawyer to meet your needs and to form a lasting, confidential relationship with you.
   For more information about immigration lawyers, please visit the American Immigration Lawyers Association home page:  CLICK HERE

Boyd F. Campbell

    I have been practicing law in Montgomery, Alabama, since 1988.  In addition to my private international law and immigration and nationality law practice, I was Alabama's first practicing civil law notary, was appointed by the Alabama Secretary of State in August 2001, and can provide civil law notarial services.  I represent U.S. companies with international business interests and domestic and foreign multinational corporations in connection with investments and visa and cross-border employment matters.
    I began serving as legal counsel for the largest employer I represent in 1995.  The company has 36,000 employees and operates in 16 countries.  The smallest employer I represent has four employees, two of whom are foreign nationals.
    I also help individual foreign nationals with family and employment visa matters.  I assist U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who have assets overseas with investments and estate planning.  I have been actively associated with crafting U.S. public policy initiatives in immigration law circles since 1989, when I became involved with the American Bar Association (ABA) and later with its Coordinating Committee of Immigration Law.  I was a member of that committee from 1994 to 1998.  I served as chair of the ABA's Immigration Law Committee of the General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Lawyers Section, and served as chair of the International Law Section of the Alabama State Bar from 2000 to 2002.  I am a member in good standing of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and am affiliated with AILA's Atlanta Chapter.
    I am a frequent speaker at colleges and universities, and civic and church organizations, addresses immigration matters and public policy, and conduct seminars and workshops on immigration law and private international law.  For information about how to schedule me to speak to a seminar or workshop, or to your group, please click on the following hyperlink: Speaker.
    I received a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; a master's degree from Columbia University in New York, New York; and a law degree from Jones School of Law in Montgomery, Alabama. To read more about me, CLICK HERE.

How to consult with and hire a lawyer

    Consulting an immigration lawyer to find out whether you need help with a legal matter need not be expensive.  Most immigration lawyers charge a nominal fee for an initial legal consultation, especially if you reach them through a State Bar lawyer referral service.
    The best lawyers are very busy people.  We are all impatient to get our business done, and we demand attention.  But please don't assume -- simply because you cannot get the lawyer to talk to you on the telephone when you place your first call to him or her -- that the lawyer is not interested in helping you.  If you call a lawyer whom you know to be good at what he or she does, you should not expect the lawyer to be sitting in his office, waiting for your call.  Every good immigration lawyer I know is extremely busy.
    I do my best to make myself available to people who are not my regular clients, but sometimes this is not possible, and my attention must first go to those who have already hired me to devote my time and attention to their legal needs.
    Just as you would expect to pay a doctor for his experience, knowledge, and training in medicine, you should expect to pay a lawyer something for his experience, knowledge, and training, and for the time he spends listening to the facts of the situation you might bring to him and for advising you or providing you with a referral to another lawyer, even if this time is spent on the telephone and not in the lawyer's office.
    Just as in any profession, the best lawyers often charge the most money as an hourly rate or a flat fee. But a lawyer's hourly rate should not be your only measure of whether you have the best lawyer or the right lawyer.  Again, it is very important to talk with friends, acquaintances, and family members to get a recommendation. Ask the person giving you the lawyer's name whether they used the lawyer to handle a legal matter and what kind of legal matter it was.  Talk to those who have had similar legal problems and find out whom they consulted, but please interview the lawyer yourself.

How to work with your immigration lawyer

    Once you have found the right immigration lawyer, you will want to get to work immediately to address the problem that caused you to find a lawyer in the first place. But first things first:  If you cannot trust a lawyer you have hired, STOP!  Terminate the matter and find a lawyer you can trust.  If the attorney-client relationship is nothing else, it is a relationship based upon trust, confidence, and privacy. You have every right to trust your lawyer with the most intimate details of your life. Your lawyer is absolutely prohibited from discussing your private matters and personal information with anyone else. In fact, neither local nor federal police, neither state nor federal judges can require U.S. lawyers to reveal confidential information about their clients.
    You should give your lawyer with the best, most accurate, most complete information about your situation that you possibly can. A lawyer's legal work on behalf of his clients does not operate well in an information vacuum. You probably hold the keys to much of the information your immigration lawyer needs to come to your rescue. If you don't give him the keys, he can't start the car.
    If, at any time, your situation changes, or you have good information that could affect your case, call your lawyer. Don't assume he has heard about it. You have every right to expect your lawyer to communicate with you regularly about progress in your legal matter. So please let your lawyer know when you learn something that might affect your case, even if you do not know whether it is important.
    Finally, if you become dissatisfied with your lawyer, do not write letters to government agencies or the immigration judge in the case, or file legal documents a cousin or friend created for you on her word processor, or you bought from an office supply store. You will do more harm to yourself. Terminate your relationship with the lawyer first. A simple letter telling the lawyer you no longer need his or her services will do. You should ask for your case file. It is proper for the lawyer to copy it before turning it over to you and to get you to sign a receipt for it.
    Again, the time to identify a lawyer to help you with legal matters is before you need the help.  Whether or not you decide to hire me to help you, please identify a lawyer today who can best meet your future legal needs, schedule an initial consultation with the lawyer, and sit down and discuss your problem.

This page is sponsored by
Immigration Law Center, L.L.C.
P.O. Box 11032
Montgomery, Alabama 36111-0032 USA

Telephone: (334) 832-9090
Send email:  CLICK HERE

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