Many potential clients who call our office ask this question: Why do I need to pay for a consultation with your immigration attorney? There are two easy answers to that question. First you get what you pay for. And second, an attorney’s time and knowledge are what they have to offer to a client. If an immigration attorney is willing to do a comprehensive telephonic or in-person consultation on every immigration case for free, that may not be the attorney you want to handle your case.
There are exceptions to this rule; low or no-cost organizations, legal aid, Catholic Charities and other places may offer free consultations and they can still provide quality legal services. There are also certain types of cases that an immigration attorney may provide a free consultation to talk about, but they may charge a fee for other types of cases.
Immigration clients should be very careful when deciding which attorney to trust with their case, their future, and their families’ futures. All immigration attorneys are not the same. Some have many years of practice and experience, while others are very new to the law. Some have expertise in certain areas of immigration law that other immigration attorneys simply don’t have. Some immigration attorneys are Board Certified by the Florida Bar, which means that they are experts in immigration law. Florida Bar Board Certified attorneys have to pass very rigorous ethical and educational requirements along with passing a board exam.
Not all immigration attorneys are the same, and clients usually have to pay a consultation fee to receive the time and advice of more experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorneys.
Why should you pay for an immigration consultation? Here is what you will usually receive when you pay for the attorney’s time, experience and expertise:
The attorney should review your documents and case in advance so they can analyze your case, do the necessary research and provide you with a plan at the consultation. This saves you time and energy and the attorney can spend time answering your questions at the consultation, rather than asking you questions and telling you, I’ll get back to you. When you pay the attorney for their time, they will spend more time on your case and your consultation. When you receive a free consultation, the attorney may not spend anytime on your case before or after the consultation.
When you have a paid consultation, the attorney will usually spend more time with you talking about your case and answering questions. Many attorneys who offer free consolations will only do them over the phone and may limit the consultation to 15 minutes or less. When you pay for a consultation you will usually receive up to an hour of the attorney’s time and it may be in person or over the phone, whatever is convenient for you. Free consultations are often a way to simply get clients in the door and you may not receive much in the way of comprehensive legal advice, until you pay the attorney to represent you.
When you pay for a consultation, the attorney may be less likely to try and sell you on legal services. If the attorney gives you a free consultation, the attorney may be more likely to try and persuade you that you need an attorney to help you in your case and that you should hire them. Attorneys don’t stay in business long by giving out free advice to clients to help them handle their cases on their own. When you pay for a consolation, the attorney should give you accurate and honest advice, even if the advice is, you don’t need an attorney to help you with this case, you could try and do it on your own. An immigration consultation should not be the time for a sales pitch by the attorney, it should be the time the attorney analyzes your case and provides you will accurate and sound advice.
Many attorneys who charge a consultation fee will credit that consultation fee to any legal services that you hire the attorney to perform. This is an added benefit to paying for a consultation. The consultation fee is an investment into your immigration case, not a waste of money.
Attorneys often charge consultation fees to weed out people just looking for quick free advice with no intent on hiring an attorney to represent them. When you pay an attorney for the consultation, the attorney knows you are serious about your case, serious about the advice and you are more likely to hire them. Paying a consultation fee lets the attorney know you are invested in the matter and should be a better client.
All clients should be very careful about which attorney they choose for their case and from which attorney they accept legal advice. The advice of an experienced, knowledgeable and trusted immigration attorney could save you or a loved one from getting deported. The free advice of an immigration attorney on the phone who is just trying to sign you as a client could get you or a loved one deported. Isn’t potentially avoiding serious negative immigration consequences like detention or deportation worth a small consultation fee?