Voice

May/June 2011

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SPOTLIGHT by Andrew Johnson How to Increase the Organization and Efficiency of a 3-Year-Old Firm This is part two of a three-part series that suggests (1) how to start your own immigration law firm; (2) how to increase the organization and efficiency of a 3-year-old firm; and (3) how to increase pro- ductivity in a 7-year-old firm. O nce an immigration firm enters its third year, the focus should be on efficiency and organization; there should be no more chaos with last-minute U.S. Citi- zenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of Labor deadlines, or running to court for an emergency continuance request or late docu- ment submission. There always will be last-minute clients, but if 90 percent of all your immigration work is properly scheduled and organized, you can handle the emergency deadlines. Calendar Tracking System The entire staff should know about all deadlines, court appearances, USCIS interviews, and client appointments through a networked scheduling tracking system. Since clients will call regularly for updates on the status of their case, your secretar- ies should be able pull all client information within seconds and handle most of these calls. Scheduling Control your calendar and attempt to regiment your schedule so as to avoid fielding phone calls all day. For example, a weekly schedule may entail: • No phone calls from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm (ex- cept from the government or court) • Return client calls from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm • New client consultations on Monday and Fri- day from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm, and Wednes- day from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm • At least an hour a week should be dedicated 12 VOICE to reviewing the next two months of your cal- endar. E-mails regarding open cases should be sent to staff with the client’s name as the subject line. The body of the e-mail should be short, “Call court and check on status of con- tinuance motion”; “Call client about docs we requested for RFE”; “Prepare draſt of motion to change venue.” Systemized Mail Approach Secretaries are responsi- ble for scanning all receipt notices and sending them to the client by e-mail at- tachment; all approval notices, court notices, and denials are sent by e- mail and hard copies are mailed to the client’s ad- dress by Fed Ex Ground, UPS, or certified mail, and the receipt is scanned into the client’s computer file. Even if the client calls and acknowledges receipt of the e-mail, still send the denial document by a mail carrier that allows you to track the proof of receipt. Delegation Stop doing busy work and delegate. You should have templates of everything imaginable—motions, letters, and inquiries to USCIS—which should be organized and accessible. As an attorney, you should be practicing law and developing argu- ments on your client’s behalf, not typing an im- Learn more about the special savings AILA members receive on select FedEx services!

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