Immigration Practice News

June 2012 (Volume 3, Issue 4)

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Overseeing Contract Workers and Managing Unethical Behavior by Lisa York M do lawyers have when a contract worker engages in unethical behavior? ABA Formal Opinion 08- 451 states that the lawyer is ultimately responsible for rendering competent legal services to the client (Model Rule 1.1), and thus, must diligently supervise contract workers (Model Rules 5.1 and 5.3). Given this ultimate responsibility, what can lawyers do to ensure that contract workers don't engage in bad behavior? any immigration lawyers employ contract workers. Since contract workers are by definition independent, what responsibility Educate Contract workers should be educated about the rules of professional responsibility; it is the lawyer' to do so. In addition, workers should be versed in the procedures the lawyer has established to ensure that the rules are followed. Send contract workers to CLE presentations on the rules of professional conduct. s responsibility client, draſt forms, and file petitions with the USCIS. Miscommunication can cause a host of problems, including failures to file an H-1B visa petition on time. Make Time to Talk Schedule as much time as needed to meet with contract workers to discuss the progress of a case, upcoming deadlines, and any issues or questions that arise. This is particularly important if the lawyer has fully delegated a case to a contract worker; the lawyer is ultimately responsible for the outcome of the case, it is critical that there be a consistent exchange of information. Carefully Review the Work The lawyer must always review the final work product. While this may seem a self-evident dictate, questions of competency in the review of the work product are raised when work is contracted out because it involves legal matters outside the lawyer' example of this might involve a business immigration lawyer learning that his H-1B client has just been Clearly Identify the Scope of the Work The scope of work expected from the contract worker should be clearly defined. If, for example, a lawyer hires a contract worker to provide help with H-1B visas during Cap season, the contract worker should be clear on the scope of duties, whether they be assuming responsibility for a case from start to finish, or just draſting the company support letter and filing the LCA. Lawyers should specify to their contract workers as to whose job it is to communicate with the Reid Trautz has provided advice to AILA members on a range of issues: To arrange a consultation, please call 202-507-7647 or e-mail This service is free to AILA members. Looking for practice advice? Talk s area of expertise. An picked-up by USICE. The lawyer decides to retain the case, rather than referring it out to another lawyer, and enlists the help of a contract lawyer or paralegal. In making the decision to keep the case, the lawyer must be competent or willing to become competent to represent the client in the particular matter. (Model Rule 1.1). While it is tempting to turn the case over to the more experienced contract worker, at the end of the day, the lawyer who took on the case is liable for any mistakes made; thus, the lawyer must be able to competently review the work. If the lawyer does not feel competent to review the work, he or she should either co-counsel with a competent lawyer or not engage in the representation. Where's the Money? If your contract workers will be responsible for handling money, establishing checks and balances in the accounting/billing system will ensure that the money is handled properly. The contractor who handles the mail (and thus incoming bank statements, payments from clients, etc.) should not be asked to enter payments and pay bills for the firm. If only one person is assigned the management of money, the risk of missing money is increased. to Reid! Following these five tips should help you properly supervise contract workers, and in turn, help prevent contractors from engaging in unethical behavior. Lisa Helen York is a solo-practitioner in Denver, CO who focuses on national interest wavier, outstanding researcher and extraordinary ability petitions. AILA'S ETHICS & PRACTICE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE offers 24/7 assistance to members through the Practice and Professionalism Center. You can find information to help you develop your practice, improve firm management and identify and address ethic issues through the Practice Management library. 4

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