Famous American businessman Warren Buffett once said: "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." This is particularly true when it comes to Immigration Law. Many immigrants are drawn by the lower price offered by paralegals and legal assistants, when the fact is these people offering immigration services can do little more than helping them fill out their paperwork.
The problem is not only that paralegals are not allowed to offer legal advice; the problem is that you could end up in a much worse situation than you were in at first if you hire one. There have been news reports about people who have cheated immigrants out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be immigration lawyers. In other words, it’s important to consider more than just the price tag.
Immigration Lawyers vs. Legal Assistants
It’s essential to realize what paralegals are, what they can do, as well as their limitations. The first thing you need to understand is that paralegals are not licensed lawyers, but they often help attorneys with their cases. This means you are most likely to deal with paralegals on a regular basis, even if you hire an immigration attorney, and that is perfectly customary.
That being said, let's take a closer look at some of the reasons why you should choose a licensed immigration attorney over legal assistants and paralegals:
- Legal assistants are not regulated. Pretty much anybody can open a business within 6 months, put up a website and do a little research on any given topic –let’s say Immigration Law– and call themselves experts on the area. Now, while their price range might be ‘more affordable’, they could close their offices tomorrow and you won't be able to hold them accountable.
- Feeble experience. Obviously not all legal assistants are looking to fiddle immigrants, but even the most candid ones, the ones that really want to help you out in complete honesty, often lack the experience to assess your case accurately. In fact, they incline to offer more ‘legal’ options than the ones that are actually available in order to appear more knowledgeable to potential clients.
- Risk of misrepresentation and fraud. Without the proper legal assistance you might end up being charged with misrepresentation or fraud, and this can eventually lead to deportation. Do you really want to save a few hundred dollars that might end up costing you years of setbacks or even your own future in the United States?
Paralegals are not licensed immigration attorneys, but they can do key research work for lawyers. In other words, if a paralegal is being supervised by a lawyer, they can be of great help in preparing legal documents, providing accurate information, and keeping you informed about important deadlines. Usually, a dependable immigration lawyer will have a paralegal in the office.
As always, we urge you to do your due diligence before hiring an immigration lawyer. If you have any more questions about this subject, please join the conversation in the comments section below.