Immigration Practice News

January 2013 (Vol. 4, No. 2)

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IPN Immigration Practice News ISSUE THE NEW YEAR Vol. 4 Issue 2 American Immigration Lawyers Association www.aila.org AILA INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH u AILA kicks off its new series of short interviews on immigration with AILA President Laura Lichter, who discusses immigration reform for 2013. Check for new segments the first Monday of each month on Facebook! YOUR PRACTICE & PROFESSIONALISM RESOURCES: Webpage ? ! Mentor Directory Message Center Newsletter Archive Practice Success Tips Best of PPC Resources! Resolve To Be a Better 'Counselor at Law' by Michael Kohler, Esq W hich are you: a lawyer, attorney-at-law, or counselor-at-law? Is there a difference, or are they the same thing? Some of us may use these terms interchangeably, but I believe there is a distinction. While you may be an excellent "attorney" or "lawyer," can you say that you are an equally excellent "counselor" at law? As a government attorney for the first 12 years of my legal career, I did not fully recognize the distinction between the terms. My client for those years was a government agency, not an actual person sitting across the table from me. Since leaving government service, my experience has taught me that these terms are not necessarily synonymous. I have found that being a "counselor-at-law" is an additional (and rewarding) aspect of private practice. As attorneys, we advise our clients on a preferred course of action. We advocate that position whether it is before an Immigration Judge, USCIS, or another tribunal. But can we say we adequately "counsel" our clients throughout this process? Making clients feel comfortable from their initial consultation to the ultimate resolution of their case is essential. We must carefully walk our clients through their options and explain why a particular course of action is advisable or discouraged. And while "because I said so" may sometimes be appropriate in a parent-child relationship, we should avoid that same approach with our clients. It is our job to fully explain the legal issues so that our clients understand what we advise and why. As Einstein said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Counseling a client requires answering their questions, often times repeatedly, in an appropriate manner. We should empathize, not patronize. Counselors should understand that their clients (and loved ones) might be facing possible removal, or long-term separation from their families. The outcome of a client's case may affect his/hers family's future for generations. These are significant and emotional issues, and patiently answering their concerns is an integral aspect of our job. CONTINUED on pg.2 >> "It is our job to fully explain the legal issues so that our clients understand what we advise and why. As Einstein said, 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.' " www.aila.org 1

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