My Philosophy

What is the message of this post?  Briefly, I believe that you will find it to be in your best interest to find a reputable lawyer who can offer high-quality legal representation, with a free initial consultation, and a fee that is fair to everyone, and help you to schedule your fee payments over time, with a final payment based on success of the case.

Full disclosure:  I am an immigration lawyer.  I make my living from advising, and representing, people like youI’m a problem solver, and I try to help real people solve their immigration problems so they and their families can reach a goal and find greater happiness.  That is what I believe I am called to do.  I charge a reasonable fee for my services, because I believe they add value to my clients’ quality of life.  You have a need, I try to meet that need and help you and your family to reach a goal — citizenship, permanent residence, or other benefit under U.S. immigration law.

You should be aware that it will likely cost several thousand dollars for you to apply for an immigration benefit — whether it is to apply for U.S. citizenship, or for permanent residence, or for a work visa or investment visa.  When I help you apply for an immigration benefit, I charge an “attorney fee,” and the U.S. government charges its “processing fee” for the privilege of filing immigration applications with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

What is a fair attorney fee?  It will depend on a variety of factors, and there is no “set” rule, or law.  Ethical rules for the legal profession require that a lawyer must charge a fee which is reasonable, based on the value of the services to be rendered.  Speaking for myself, I refer to a schedule of fees, one that I have developed over time, for various types of immigration cases.  I apply a reasonable discount whenever possible.

And I try to ensure fairness for you, in several ways: 

(1) I do not charge a fee for the initial consultation, unless you are requesting expedited service.

(2) You will know up-front how much the case will cost, because I charge a flat fee, not an hourly fee.

(3) I may charge a small, one-time administrative charge up-front, to cover incidental expenses such as photocopies, long-distance phone calls, postage and FedEx, etc.   Often it is built into the attorney fees, meaning that I will pay any incidental expenses.

(4) I schedule the payment of my flat-fee attorney fees over time, starting with an initial payment, a middle payment or series of payments, and then a final payment.  The final payment often depends on my success in the case, meaning you know I am working hard to win the case.

(5) Whatever the arrangement, I commit it to writing in a contract which the client and I sign.  We prepare contracts in English and Spanish, depending on the language preference of the client.

A word about my “payment plan” approach:  As an example, a fairly complex case such as a marriage-based permanent residence case which will require a family-hardship waiver to overcome an obstacle (such as being undocumented), the life of the case is typically 9 to 12 months.  In our written agreement, the contract, I describe the work that I will perform for the client, with a total amount, and a structured payment plan which will typically involve an initial payment, a series of monthly payments, and a final payment which is contingent upon approval of the waiver and permanent residence.

I mentioned that I do not charge for the initial consultation.  The conventional wisdom among lawyers seems to be that a lawyer should not give his or her services away, for free.  I take a different approach.  Rather than put a dollar sign on every minute of my time, I prefer to look at the value of the consultation “experience,” in terms of offering you, the prospective client, the opportunity to respond favorably by retaining my services, or pass on my name to someone else who may become a future client.  At the very least I have the satisfaction of knowing I have passed on information and rendered a service.

So, I am happy to offer 30-minute consultations at no cost.  My thinking is that I am happy to offer high-quality advice to help someone get properly oriented in the vast ocean that is U.S. immigration law, so that they have some idea of what lies ahead in their voyage to their destination.  In the consultation setting, I am hoping to identify a prospective client’s goals, to understand his or her immigration history, and to identify strengths and weaknesses in the case, and the best way to handle the case for the most realistic result.  That’s a lot to put into a 30-minute consultation, so I try to be flexible and not count the minutes.

In any event, I derive personal and professional satisfaction from meeting and interacting with people — people like you — in the initial consultation.  I get to know something about you, your family, your immigration history, what your dreams are — and then I set to work to make a mental plan on how to make it all work, with a payment schedule over time to meet your family’s financial needs.  And then I am ready to make a proposal, and if accepted we will sign a contract, and my staff and I can begin work on your case.

I invite you to contact me to set up an initial consultation.  Thank you.