When you see advertisements or meet individuals who guarantee you an outcome on your immigration case, RUN (don't just walk) away. Not only is it illegal for any attorney to make a guarantee of outcome, it is also highly unethical as it misleads many immigrants into paying a higher premium with false expectations. The sad news is that there are persons out there making such false claims who are not even attorneys. Worse yet, attorneys describe their "magic" to you on getting cases done when they haven't seen the insides of the immigration service or a court room for years. You will be victimized by the promises to begin with, and then victimized again when it comes to attorneys' fees.
The foregoing notwithstanding, good attorney's don't come cheap. And, even more costly than a good attorney is when you try to save money by paying for bad advice or no advice at all. Just yesterday, I received a call on my cell phone from a former client who chose to represent himself at his adjustment of status interview. The officer was kind enough to let him call me because it was our good work that got him there to begin with. Yet, he wanted to skimp on the fees that it would take for us to travel to another state. Now, it will be more expensive to fix the problem that he created and get him the benefit that he would have obtained were we there with them. Bad attorneys can result in cases being delayed and time continually spent away from one's family. Point his, whether hiring a lawyer, or making the (poor) decision to represent oneself, be smart.
Before you hire an attorney, ask them when was the last time that "they" actually did a case like yours. At the same time, be advised that every case is different. Ask your lawyer when the last time s/he as at the immigration service. Inquire of this lawyer's reputation in the community. Don't be fooled by grandiose advertisements. Anyone can advertise if they can afford to.
"Shop around". Meet with several attorneys before making the decision to hire one. Ask your friends and family for personal referrals. Ask your friends and family for the tsismis about a lawyer's reputation in the community. Make sure that you meet with an attorney that is actually licensed to practice law, preferably in the State of California. While immigration law is federal and if you are admitted in any state you can practice immigration law, if something goes wrong and you need to track your attorney down or report her to the bar, it is important to know where that attorney is admitted to practice.
To ensure that the person you are meeting with is a California licensed attorney, you can visit the State Bar's homepage at www.calbar.ca.gov and go to "Attorney Search." Keep in mind that the Lawyers can become State Bar-certified specialists (and advertise themselves as such) by showing that they have extensive experience and tested ability in their field of law. Currently, the State Bar certifies lawyers in eight specialties, one of which is Immigration and Nationality Law. One of the named partners at Wilner & O'Reilly is a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law. For an online list of State Bar-certified specialists, visit www.californiaspecialist.org and go to "Specialist Search".
There are a number of good lawyers that provide services to the Filipino community. Make sure you choose one. After all, you are making one of the most important decisions in the life of you and your family.