Florida has many licensed attorneys practicing in different areas of the law. However, only about 4,400 of Florida's 88,000 lawyers are board certified (and how many just in immigration and nationality law…about 50 – 60). Board certification by the Florida Bar is reserved for attorneys who are determined to be experts in their field of practice.
I am proud to be one of the few Florida attorneys that are board certified in Immigration and Nationality Law. Immigration law is a highly specialized field that is unlike most other areas of legal practice. An immigration attorney needs to be familiar with numerous highly detailed and constantly changing Federal regulations and procedures. The more experienced attorneys are also familiar with the particular processes used at different Consular posts and U.S. Embassies across the world.
Therefore, when looking to retain an immigration attorney, finding a specialist in the field should be priority number one. In Florida, board certification is the best indication that the attorney is an immigration law specialist. Another important indication is to make sure your attorney is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the association of immigration lawyers and the source of important updates and consultation with the various U.S. immigration agencies such as USCIS. You also want an attorney who has experience in a variety of immigration matters, especially yours.
The next thing to consider is the size of the law practice and to what extent the work is being done by paralegals. I find it essential to my practice that my clients know they can ask me any questions they have about their application. I find my clients value this personal attention as well.
It is important to feel comfortable with your legal advisor. Being born in France, I can relate to the experience of being in a foreign place and trying to learn a new language.
Perhaps the most significant ingredient to look for in any attorney is honesty and integrity. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is in immigration law. As an immigration lawyer I hope to develop a mutual trust with my client who has placed their trust in me.