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How do I Choose the Best Pro Bono Immigration Lawyer?

Article Details
  • Written By: T. Briseno
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing the best pro bono immigration lawyer is often a matter of location. In the United States, the American Bar Association (ABA) publishes an Immigration Legal Service Providers Directory that lists free, or pro bono, and low-cost legal services by state. Searching for “legal aid” by location also can lead to public assistance or social service agencies that offer or provide contact information for pro bono immigration lawyers. Some legal professionals become known through word of mouth after representing local immigrants or working with particular ethnic or national associations.

Many law schools in the US and internationally promote pro bono service activities for practicing or bar-certified lawyers. Law students also may be a large part of programs serving communities of need that may have fewer economic resources. As immigration and refugee assistance have increased in recent decades, so has the workload for interpreting and enforcing legal status of those settling outside of their home countries. Issues of citizenship, residency, and deportation, for example, may require the expertise of a pro bono immigration lawyer.

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A number of communities in the US and abroad have enclaves or concentrations of immigrants and refugees settling in neighborhoods together. These communities often provide a wealth of information from person to person about how and where to find needed services or goods. Asking friends and neighbors if they know of or have heard recommendations for a pro bono immigration lawyer in the community may be enough to find help. Sometimes an individual or group of individuals of a certain nationality feel called to combine legal training and language skills to serve nationals in a new homeland.

Searching for legal aid or immigration law on the Internet may yield a number of contacts, but choosing the best pro bono immigration lawyer generally should involve some research and checking of credentials and experience. Some areas may have only one or possibly no pro bono assistance for immigrants, so a search can involve identifying the nearest metropolitan center offering options. If Internet access is not available, or if an individual is having difficulty due to language barriers, typically a department of human services can provide contact information. Local churches and ministry organizations also may have specific immigrant and refugee resources for the communities they serve.

Though many legal professionals gain experience through volunteering services, some find their area of specialization while working with a particular clientele. Choosing a pro bono immigration lawyer when several or more choices are available may be a matter of finding someone with a heart for the needs of the immigrant or refugee. An individual with knowledge of the complex issues of immigration and the willingness to work on behalf of clients who may not be able to pay for services may be a source of comfort to those resettling away from their homelands.

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