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Questions to ask before choosing your lawyer

See below two videos (Part 1&2) on 7 Tips for Choosing the Best Immigration Lawyer.

7 Tips for Choosing the Best Immigration Lawyer (Part 1)

7 Tips for Choosing the Best Immigration Lawyer (Part 2)

Here is a summary of the 7 Tips

7 Tips for choosing the Best Immigration Lawyer London (part one)

What should clients be looking for when they are trying to choose the best immigration lawyer in London?

1. Do I even need a lawyer?

That’s an important question. It may well be that the application you make is simply enough that you don’t actually need a lawyer. What we say, with the word warning is this: maybe you don’t need a lawyer, but friends and forums are not a replacement for doing it youself or a good lawyer! If you don’t understand something, get a good lawyer rather than friends or approachable forums. Or if you don’t understand something, make sure you do understand it: go to guidance or go to relevant information, and then do it yourself. And only if you cannot, then choose a lawyer you’re satisfied with.

– What the types of examples of situation should you be thinking?

– Were you successful in previous application before?

– What if you have no time?

– What if you only need a consultation?

– Some more complex areas:

– Appeals

– Previous failed application

– Complex immigration history

– Applications outside the rules

2. OISC or Solicitor?

Here is some general points of how to choose OISC representatives or solicitors.

OISC firms:

– Immigration only

– Regular audits and competency

Solo firms:

– Can do Judicial Review

– Other areas of law (e.g. cases involved criminal part, or divorce for family application)

Whichever you go, make sure they are regulated! The worst thing you could have is an unregulated advisor, or an unregulated supported lawyer.

3. Location – Is the location of your advisor important?

In most cases, we would say it’s not really an important point. Good quality legal advice if you have to travel for it is better than the bad quality legal advice that is around the corner from you. Please be aware, however, the most law firms are more than happy to undertake work for client either based one visit or no visit at all. And often immigration law firms should have expertise in advising you via phone or via email, and also sending documents via email or post.

Just be aware: you might want a relatively local lawyer simply because it may well reduce the cost of somebody going to call for you.

4. Initial phone contact.

Pay attention to what to look out for when you call!

Here are some certain points for your reference:

– Right person?

– Time?

– Explain your case properly.

What to get from the conversation:

– A quick assessment of the issues in the case.

Bear in mind, ‘I don’t know’ is a valid answer! They may be questions they should do further research on, or may simply be something no lawyer could possibly know the answer. If they don’t know the answer, they should explain why they don’t know the answer.

If they need to see more documents, that is a good sign. It often means there is something particular about your case they want to look at.

Make sure you find out how they work, in terms of fees. That’s important. Do you pay all the money upfront? Or what do you actually pay for?

Some other points you need to make sure:

– How they work in terms of communication?

– Who does the work?

– How are they going to win?

– The relevant law/rules/guidance

Bear in mind, you are not just looking for confidence. Confidence is as easy to fake. You are looking for knowledge and enthusiasm.

Golden point: Immigration law is not magic! There is no lawyer who has all the answers which nobody else has. What it is is verifiable knowledge. In other words, there is knowledge that the lawyer has which he can verify for you. There are no ‘secrets’ in Immigration Law.

You should always ask why when a lawyer is telling you something he is confident about or what is going to happen, because you are looking for that verifiable knowledge.

And what’s important, see how you feel at the end of the call.

5. Consultations

It’s an issue of should you pay? Some offer free consultations. Is it really free? We believe there is no such thing as free consultation. If it is free, rather than a consultation, it’s actually a sales pitch. If you need legal advice, you should actually have to pay for it.

A good consultation should consist of the following aspects. First is immigration history, which should cover about 30 minutes. Then after that you should be given advice from good lawyer. After 45 minutes, they should be going through your options, and explaining what’s good and what’s bad about your case. And in the end, they should explain about the cost.

Make sure you know when you leave:

– All the options,

– The next steps,

– The chances of success,

– Timescales.

6. The role of the Client Care Letter

This is crucial. If you don’t have the Client Care Letter, it means you haven’t been given the protection in writing that a Client Care Letter provides to you.

A good client care letter must:

– Match exactly what was agreed before.

– Contain the price (look for VAT)

– Explain what exact service that is for.

– Set out the chances of success.

– Explain the advice exact given.

– Why that is!

If you are not happy with the client care letter, ask for a change and only sign it once you are happy!

7. Client

Clients often with respect make mistakes due to desperation. Here are some mistakes we would ask you not to make, when you call any lawyers.

– Honesty: Be honest to your lawyer.

– Costs: Understanding of the cost, including emotional cost, financial cost, time costs.

– The danger of being information overload: Usually, Clients go on forums, talk to too many lawyers, or talk to family and friends. You get too much information. It’s not clever to take hundreds of opinions, because you’re not able to remember which is right or which is wrong. Talk to one or two trustful lawyers for opinion, then choose between those carefully.

– Race: Bear in mind, sometimes you want to choose a lawyer of your same race. As is understandable, language and culture are often important. However, don’t feel a lawyer of your race may always be the best for you. A good lawyer is a good lawyer regardless of their race.

These are 7 tips for choosing the best immigration lawyer London. For detailed explanation on each point, please have a watch of our guidance videos ‘Immigration Lawyer London (Part 1&2)’

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Westkin Associates

17 Hanover Square, Mayfair

United Kingdom

0207 1184 546

© 2015 Westkin – London Immigration Lawyers

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