THE NEW YEAR
Vol. 4 Issue 2
AILA INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
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:
Best of PPC
Resolve To Be a Better 'Counselor at Law'
by Michael Kohler, Esq
hich are you: a lawyer,
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.' "