Selecting A Good Immigration Lawyer in Canada
Immigration law is difficult to understand and constantly changing. So it's very important to hire a good immigration lawyer if you are dealing with any kind of immigration issue.
A great way to start your search is at Canadian-Lawyers.ca. Go to the Find A Lawyer search box that appears on the right hand side of each page. Under Personal Needs where it says, "Select a type of lawyer," scroll down the areas of practice and click on "IMMIGRATION." Then type in your hometown, insert your province, and click on the Search button. You should be able to pull up a list of immigration lawyers in your area.
Next, find out every thing you can about the lawyers and then do some initial screening to narrow down your list to three or four prospective candidates:
- Look at the biographies and websites for the immigration lawyers and their law firms. Do they have any information on their websites about immigration law that is helpful to you?
- Has the immigration lawyer ever been disciplined by the provincial law society? This could be a sign of possible problems. There are also people who falsely claim to be licensed lawyers. Local lawyers will know if an immigration lawyer is licensed and in good standing.
- Has the immigration lawyer established a good name for himself or herself in the community? If your lawyer has a sterling community reputation, chances are it was earned through hard work.
- A strong reference from a friend or colleague is often the best indicator of whether an immigration lawyer will do a good job.
- Within immigration law, there are a variety of subspecialties. Consider going with an immigration lawyer with a strong background in your particular type of case.
- It's tough enough for a full-time immigration lawyer to keep up with all the developments in the practice area. It's nearly impossible to be a top-notch immigration lawyer while trying to balance being an expert in many other practice areas as well. While someone can be a good immigration lawyer and also be very competent in another practice area, watch out for lawyers where immigration is one practice area on a laundry list of claimed specialties.
- Technology has revolutionized the practice of immigration law probably as much as any other area in the legal profession. Immigration lawyers who master technology deliver legal services with better quality and can often leverage technology to deliver legal services less expensively.
- Immigration lawyers who write frequently about their practice area tend to keep themselves better informed about their area of law. The ability to get published may also indicate that the lawyer's expertise is respected.
- Check out the yellow pages of your telephone directory. Does the immigration lawyer advertise? If so, do you find it compelling? Helpful? Tasteful?
- Check out the archives of your local newspaper. Has there been any publicity about the immigration lawyer or the cases that he or she has handled?
- Consider any special needs you have. For example, could you benefit from an immigration lawyer who speaks a language other than English?
You will probably want to hire a immigration lawyer with at least a few years of experience. Much of immigration law is unwritten and the longer a lawyer is in practice, the better his or her instincts become. But the opposite can be true as well. Immigration lawyers who have been practicing for years may become lazy about staying up to date on the latest changes. So try and strike a balance.
Compare backgrounds and experience. Use your common sense and gut instincts to evaluate the remaining immigration lawyers on your list. You'll want to be comfortable with the lawyer you hire. You want to choose the best immigration lawyer you can afford who is experienced, competent and willing to communicate. Prioritize your choices and start making some telephone calls to set up meetings with several immigration lawyers to interview them.