Immigration Practice News

January 2013 (Vol. 4, No. 2)

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COUNSELOR CONTINUED FROM 1 >> Resolve To Review Your Firm's Finances by Simone Bachaud T he New Year is a good time to review your firm's financial situation and plan for the next year. A critical part of planning the next business year is to know both where you have been financially and where you want to go financially. Many business owners cannot answer these two basic questions. There are some simple steps I recommend that you take to plan your firm's financial year. alter the cash flow of the firm so that all monies spent serve your business objectives. You should assess your expenditures to determine whether it is time to change your marketing budget, switch to a different vendor, or invest in new software, for example. When you are clear where your firm was financially last year, the next step is to project this year's earnings. There are four questions that you can ask yourself: First, review your previous year's financials. In this review, look at where you spent money last year. If something is not clear, find out the details about the money you spent. 1. Do you want your revenue to go up, stay the same, or go down? This is not an obvious question, as growing your firm's revenue is not always the best financial decision. Second, evaluate whether the money you spent supported the firm's business objectives. Sometimes money is spent because "that is what everyone else does," even though it is not appropriate for your firm'. 2. Will your firm's offerings stay the same, or are you changing the offerings? The market for legal services changes frequently. To stay current, lawyers must alter how new and existing services are marketed to have your firm continue to be profitable. Once you determine how the money was spent, you are ready to make needed corrections. You want to Another instance when we need to properly counsel our clients is helping them prepare for an interview with USCIS or a hearing before an Immigration Judge. Prior to these critical dates, our clients are often nervous and/or anxious. Being dismissive with a quick "don't worry" is not only the wrong approach but it is also insensitive. In fact, some anxiety is appropriate as it demonstrates an awareness of the importance of the event and will help insure the proper preparation and compliance from the client. Think about your own preparation for the bar exam: your anxiety allowed you to study and perform well at the appropriate time. We must help prepare our clients in the same manner. When we help our clients to prepare their testimony, organize their documents, dress properly, arrive on time, and understand what to expect during the hearing, we help maintain the proper level of anxiety. Most of our clients and their family members— almost by definition—are not citizens of this country, and likely not familiar or comfortable with our legal system. This may be their first experience with a lawyer; and, while we can professionally and competently complete the necessary work for their case, our client's satisfaction with our performance will depend greatly on the manner in which we counsel them and walk them through the immigration process. I suggest we resolve in the New Year to be better counselors at law. Michael Kohler is a sole-practitioner in Melville, N.Y. Mr. Kohler was an attorney with EOIR, INS and ICE for 12 years gaining an expertise in all aspects of immigration and customs law. CONTINUED on pg.5 >> 2

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