Are you able to contact your attorney when you need to? How will your telephone calls be handled? Will you get to speak with your attorney personally or will your call be transferred to a paralegal. Is your paralegal competent and pleasant or does a rude attitude mask her lack of interest in your case. Will your calls be accepted or sent to voicemail. If voicemail, when will your call be returned? Is it an all day affair to drive to your attorney's office? How long will you be kept waiting for your appointment? Will you get to meet with the attorney with whom you have an appointment? Is the attorney you are meeting with the one who will handle your case? If so, how many cases like yours has she done? If not, will you get to meet the attorney that will represent you? Will your paralegal be the person that you met when you hired the lawyer? These are the questions you should not only ask yourself, but more importantly, the attorney that you are contemplating hiring. In addition, these are the questions that you should ask yourself after you have hired an attorney or a law firm to represent you.
Just think. You are hiring a lawyer to assist you in your desire to bring your spouse and children to the United States. Perhaps your legal matter pertains to your parents, or even a brother or sister. Better yet, you are trying to retain someone to assist you with your personal desire to remain in the United States. You might even be in deportation (removal) proceedings and face being forever prevented, practically speaking, from returning to the United States, if you lose. The point is, whatever reason you are hiring an immigration lawyer, it is rather serious. And, for serious matters, you should seriously consider the questions posed above.
When Wilner & O'Reilly was in the process of determining where to locate, it became apparent to us that there was a shortage of qualified immigration lawyers in the vibrant city of Cerritos - home to many of Southern California's Filipino population. Though the area around Cerritos and Carson is well-known as home to our Filipino friends, most Pinoy seeking legal assistance for their immigration problems commute to Los Angeles and even the valley. Contact with their "LA lawyers" is difficult while personal service, consultations and dropping off documents is time consuming, plagued by traffic and simply put, a headache. Time should be spent speaking with your lawyer, not sitting in traffic thinking about what you are going to say. In light of the foregoing, and with all due respect to our friends in Carson, West Covina and elsewhere, Cerritos became our natural choice. We thought it best that we are located within the heart of the community we are committed to serving.
When we do cases out of town, we are often required by the court to associate in local counsel. Why? Because at the simplest level, having some one near by is convenient not only to the court, but to clients as well. By way of analogy, when analyzing the answers you might receive to the questions posed above, we suggest that you keep in the following in mind. One should be able to "drop by" their attorney's office if in the neighborhood. To say hello; to see how things are going. Of course, it is best to call first, otherwise you might have to wait for lengthy periods. If you leave a voicemail for your attorney or the paralegal, calls should be returned promptly. If you have an appointment with your attorney or paralegal, you should not be left waiting for an inordinate amount of time. You should have your attorney's cell phone handy in case of emergency. Clients should not fear that their attorneys are too busy to speak with them. If your attorney tells you that "they are too busy working on other cases and they will get to you in turn", be careful.
Be advised that even though you are the client, you are the boss. The case is yours, the file is yours, the documents submitted with the case are yours, and the results are yours. Don't let anyone tell you differently. In our opinion, if you made the right choice in the attorney that you hired, you should feel as though you now have an attorney in the family.
Wilner & O'Reilly is conveniently located in the City of Cerritos.
Richard M. Wilner is a principal in the firm and is the Chair of the Litigation Practice Group. He has been practicing immigration law for over 7 years. Mr. Wilner holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the University of Pacific McGeorge School of Law/University of Salzburg, Austria. He was appointed by the State Bar of California to serve on its Committee On Federal Courts. He was elected by the United States Army and National Guard to oversee and coordinate the naturalization applications for all of its non-citizen soldiers.
Kelly S. O'Reilly is a principal in the firm and is the Chair of the BCIS and State Department Practice Groups. Prior to becoming a member of the California Bar, Attorney O'Reilly served in the public sector as a District Adjudications Officer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service both in Los Angeles and Orange County. As a former immigration officer, Attorney O'Reilly adjudicated family and employment based applications for adjustment of status as well waiver applications for certain grounds of inadmissibility.