Immigration Practice News

January 2014 (Vol. 5, No. 2)

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Developing a New Aspect of Your Immigration Practice by Ginger McGuire F or many of us when we started practicing immigration law we landed in the practice area which allowed for the fastest employment opportunity. Whether you found yourself in the corporate world, or the family and removal defense world, it was easy to develop tunnel vision in that one specific area. From there you gained the necessary experience to become an expert in the field. However, it's not uncommon to feel the need to open new opportunities in other areas of immigration law. How easy or difficult is it to switch gears and add to your niche? Here are just a few tips to consider: Expanding Your Knowledge Base: Learning a new discipline takes time and money. It can be difficult to take time away from income generating activities to attend a CLE, or research a new area of law. You may end up asking yourself whether it's worth your time to entertain branching out into a new area. Not every investment creates a return, so make certain that you want to start practicing in a new area prior to getting too involved. Ask yourself, why do I want to practice in this area of law? Do you have a passion for the legal substance of the cases? Do you need a challenge or variety in your current practice? Are you interested in the potential monetary return? Whatever the reason, be sure that it's one that you can live with and that could result in an ideal work-life balance. After answering these questions for yourself, you will gain WANT TO LEARN MORE ON A NEW TOPIC? Check out AILA Agora for immigration resources with expert guidance and essential knowledge. may also have ethical repercussions depending on the jurisdiction in which you live. a better perspective on whether or not it's worth your time and effort to invest in a new practice area. A discussion about whether you are prepared to handle new cases in an area you may not be incredibly familiar with naturally follows as the goal should be to represent your new clients and your old clients competently. Developing Marketing Strategies: Starting anew may seem cumbersome, especially when trying to define the ideal client. An important point to remember is that your description of the ideal client is not set in stone and can be fine-tuned and modified as you learn more about the new practice area. Good places to start marketing include your firm's website, your LinkedIn account, and on your firm's Facebook page. You can also make a formal announcement through a client based newsletter and/or start writing articles about your new area in a blog. These are low risk and low cost ways to kick start your marketing efforts. Once you start getting potential client inquiries in the new area, you may consider reducing fees or accepting the first case free of charge. If the case is successful, request a referral or a testimonial. Be sure to review your state's ethical rules on posting testimonials. *In preparing this article and speaking with other immigration attorneys, it has become evident that cold calling potential clients is not only ineffective, but Building Capacity: Consider confiding in an expert in the area of law you wish to learn about. If you have the resources, you should also consider hiring a contract attorney experienced in the field to help with client consultations. Another consideration could be to look internally to staff members, do you have an associate or paralegal who is also interested in this new area? Would they want to take on this workload? AILA has many resources to help immigration attorneys with capacity issues as they grow their practice areas. There are mentors available through the AILA Mentor Directory and through local AILA chapters. In immigration law there are real opportunities for professional and business growth. Identify a new niche that you have an interest in and use AILA resources to help foster and grow your practice and clientele. Bernadette Ginger McGuire practices in Castle Rock, CO. She practices primarily in family-based immigration and removal defense. Ms. McGuire currently serves on the AILA National Practice Management Committee. www.aila.org 4

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