Are Immigration Lawyers owed more from clients than they expect?
When a client takes on an immigration lawyer, one of the things they hope for, aside from competitive fees and good levels of service is that the lawyer has a good reputation. But where does that good reputation come from and how far should the lawyer go to protect it.
There is a scene in the West Wing, where a lawyer states:
‘When you hire somebody like me you take on a responsibility to my reputation. If you decide you want to go down in some quasi-orgasmic blaze of self-pity and self-destructive self-aggrandizing attempted glory, all anyone’s going to say is ‘How did Alana Waterman, that smart, tough, savvy Washington infighter, let her client do something so crushingly, boneheaded moronic as to get himself six years in jail?’
At first glance, this seems odd, a lawyer stating the client has a responsibility to them? Surely the responsibility lasts no more than attending appointments on time and paying in a timely fashion?
The arguments in favour of this are also compelling. A lawyer only has his reputation and people assume that the client followed instructions and therefore the lawyer is to blame for the loss or poor result, which directly effects the lawyer’s or law firms reputation.
Immigration lawyers, barristers and solicitors all have the same issue. An immigration law client will no doubt want to win the case and will follow the advice given by the lawyer. If he doesn’t follow the advice due to embarrassment, laziness or not telling the lawyer all the facts and the case is lost, this affects the lawyer’s success rate. All of which is no fault of theirs.
The example would be that of doctor – no-one expects doctors to be blamed if the patient does not take the medicine that they are prescribed – but the same does not seem to apply to lawyers.
The conclusion, well perhaps this is entirely why the OISC, as a regulator does not allow immigration lawyers to boast of their success rates in any of their marketing materials. This protects the client from easily made bogus claims of 100% success rates. But it also allows for some protection for immigration law firms – the lawyer cannot advertise on success rates which makes him more concerned about the client and less about his own reputation – which probably ensures his reputation in the first place.
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