For Immigration law firms, the challenge is daunting. You have to attract clients to take up your professional services in an environment that makes it very difficult.
Your services are an unknown quantity – for example there is no top 10 list for immigration law firms.
In a very real sense a client is simply unaware if you are going to be be able to do a good job on their case until such time as they have already signed up.
Clients are aware of this. They are also aware that many immigration lawyers have poor reputations. How to correct these failures?
Well the first method is to recognise that there has been a market failure in immigration legal services. For a market to work, there has to be transparency and equal access to information.
There is no transparency in immigration legal services. For example, if I wanted to choose between a iPhone or other device, I could easily call up the reviews. Although there are reviews on immigration law forums, with comments from immigration lawyers and immigration solicitors previous clients, these forums are often skewed by immigration solicitors placing false reviews.
Further, there is very little knowledge on the part of clients. They often come from environments and cultures that are alien to the UK. They are then easily exploited by members of their own communities, when they look for a friendly face amongst all the immigration lawyers they are looking for.
Finally, the sheer amount of immigration lawyers in London can cause a tyranny of choice. There are simply so many lawyers that there cannot be an easy way to make a choice.
How to find your way round these issues is difficult. I would use the following methods to choose a law firm:
1. Don’t have one criteria – if you only look for a lawyer who is cheap, or is Russian or is in your area you may often have a problem.
2. Insist on meeting the lawyer before paying any money.You wouldn’t buy a car without seeing it, why not a lawyer?
3. Ask for a client care letter before paying any money.This should cover all you have discussed with the lawyer.
4. Always insist that they letter contains the promises that you have been given orally. For example, if you were told the case was no win no fee, or it was very strong, then insist that is reflected in the client care letter.
5. Always ask to meet the lawyer, not a sales person. Sales persons are great at selling, what about the legal work – that is what you are paying for.
6. Always trust a lawyer, not a case managements system. Legal skills are built through careful work by lawyers, would you rather have a real lawyer or a computer system running your case.
Lots more tips next time.
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