Voice

May/June 2011

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UNSOLICITED ADVICE from Cletus M. Weber 8 Steps to Being a Hero Without Getting Your Client and Yourself into Trouble H elping clients through difficult circumstances is one of the greatest joys of being an immigration lawyer. But if you try to be a hero recklessly, unethically, or illegally, you might aggravate your client’s pain, lose your license, or worse. Before attempting an extraordinarily difficult solution for your client, make sure you—and your client—truly understand everything you need to know. Consider these questions. IS IT LEGAL AND ETHICAL? The desire to help clients can be extraordinary at times, especially when their troubles are so unreasonably severe and not their fault. Even so, never cross ethical or legal boundaries to help your client. IS THE RISKY STRATEGY WORTH THE POTENTIAL COST? Make sure you can create a great benefit or remove an enormous harm before sending the client down a risky path. DO YOU HAVE ADEQUATE ALTERNATIVES? The more experience you have, the more likely you are to see potential strategies for solving difficult problems for your client. Ask around, though, because others may know of easier or safer approaches. ARE YOU THE BEST PERSON FOR THIS PARTICULAR APPROACH? Sometimes, you can see an approach that might work, and that’s great, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are the best person for implementing the solution. 10 VOICE Discovering a route on a map is one thing, carrying someone over the mountain is another. Get help if necessary. Or refer the case to someone else. DO YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY? Before asking a client to pursue a risky strategy, make sure you understand all of the possible pitfalls, repercussions, back-up options, and so on. That is, never guess on any element of your strategy. Work through the case logically, addressing each “what if” carefully in case a step along the way is sped up, slowed down, or denied unexpectedly. DOES YOUR CLIENT UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY? It is not enough for you to understand the ins and outs of your proposed strategy. Your client also must understand. The more complex the scena r io got a comment? send it to: voice@aila.org

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