I’ve talked about this subject before but it’s worth repeating these days since everyone is always looking for the “best.” It is important to understand that the term “best” is relative. Who is determining who is the best? Who is best for whom? This is such a subjective topic. Really, the more important question is not who is the best lawyer out there, but rather, who is the best lawyer for me? An attorney who is the pre-eminent authority on PERM and H-1Bs may not necessarily be the best attorney for an individual charged with being deportable or someone trying to determine whether a derivative family member will be protected under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). Similarly, an attorney who practices immigration law in addition to family law, real estate, and criminal may not necessarily be the best attorney for a case that involves filing a provisional waiver where a showing of extreme hardship is necessary.
Some guiding principles that the consumer should keep in mind are the following:
1) Consider what kind of case you have. If you have a family based case, then you should naturally want to look into immigration attorneys that practice family based immigration. Similarly, if you have an employment-immigration case, you need to determine whether a majority or a high concentration of that professional’s caseload is dedicated to the type of case you have. Immigration law is incredibly vast and there are many fields of law that fall under the umbrella of immigration law: family immigration; employment immigration; deportation; waivers; criimmigration; Violence Against Women cases; asylum; etc. It is quite rare-although out of respect for my peers, not impossible–for one attorney to be the best at all these fields.
2) Consider your budget. How much are you willing to spend for the “best” attorney? Attorneys who recognized and superior in the field will charge accordingly for their expertise. It may not be realistic or practical to price-shop or compare fees that attorney who has been practicing for 17 years against an attorney who has been doing this for only 3. Sometimes, there is a reason why cases cost more, and that is because the attorney who is experienced and knows what he/she is doing recognizes the amount of time and work that is necessary to do the job properly.
3) Consider that there are lawyers who are great at being lawyers’ lawyers and those who are truly lawyers for the people. Some attorneys have the distinction of being recognized by their peers as being superlative in their field. However, this does not necessarily translate into being the most sensitive or sympathetic advocate. What good is having the best lawyer if he or she can’t explain what kind of case you have in terms that you understand? You really have to see and talk to the attorney in person to get a feel for his/her personality and whether compatibility will be a factor for the type of case you have.
In truth, there are a lot of great lawyers in our state. Awards, experience, and accolades may be a good indication, but one should not make a decision solely based on what someone says or what one reads in something that may be purely self-promotional. The best advice I can give to somebody is: meet the attorney in person–even if you have to pay a consultation. If you are truly looking to hire the best, money should not be your top consideration. Sometimes, you will just know and can intuitively sense after talking to the attorney that he/she is the one for you. Other times, you may have to see several attorneys to figure out which one is the best for your needs.