The most frequent question that we receive is “How do I choose a good immigration attorney?” Our response is “Why settle for good?” Have you ever hear of a website called Avvo? Read on.
There are websites for finding excellent hotels, wonderful restaurants and great physicians.
How about a site for choosing an attorney? See http://www.avvo.com
Avvo has emerged as the premier site for selecting an attorney.
Avvo, short for “avvocato” (Italian for attorney), is gaining not only in popularity but in usefulness.
Great immigration attorneys will tell you that by the time 30% of potential clients consult with them, some incompetent attorney or “consultant” has already screwed up their case, often beyond repair.
So, the challenge for persons requiring immigration legal assistance is to make sure that the attorney that they entrust their future to knows what he or she is doing.
The Avvo website helps you choose a good attorney and avoid choosing a bad one in each of the following ways:
- On the profile of an attorney with a disciplinary record with the State Bar where he practices law, Avvo will prominently display a bright red banner containing the word “Attention” and an exclamation mark. To the right of this icon are the words “This lawyer has been cited for professional misconduct.” If you are curious, the details of the sanctions are listed below.
- Clients are permitted, even encouraged, to review their attorneys. They give their attorney an overall rating (one to five stars) followed by ratings in the following four areas: (1) Trustworthy; (2) Responsive; (3) Knowledgeable; and (4) Kept Me Informed. Then the client is free to write about the attorney in detail if he wishes.
- Other attorneys are encouraged to endorse their fellow attorneys;
- Avvo contains profiles of over 90% of the attorneys in the United States. Chances are, if your attorney has not uploaded his photo, then he has not “claimed” his Avvo profile. Attorneys may claim their profile, and complete an “overview” of their law firm including their (1) practice areas; (2) fees and payments; (3) contact information; (4) languages spoken; and (5) they may post videos and photos. They may also complete their resume which includes their (1) licenses; (2) work experience; (3) education; (4) awards and (5) associations. Finally, Avvo lists their “portfolio” which includes (1) legal guides posted online; (2) answers to questions posted online; (3) cases; (4) publications and (5) speaking engagements.
- Based on all of the foregoing information, Avvo assigns a rating to each attorney ranging from “Poor” to “Superb”. Here is what Avvo has to say about their rating system: “The Avvo Rating is our effort to evaluate a professional’s background. The rating is calculated using a mathematical model that considers the information shown in a professional’s profile, including a professional’s years in practice, disciplinary history, professional achievements and industry recognition – all factors that, in our opinion, are relevant to assessing a professional’s qualifications. For some professionals, the only information we have been able to collect is the publicly available information from state bar associations or other organizations that license professionals. If that is all we have, then we display an Avvo Rating for the professional of either ‘Attention’ or ‘No Concern.'”
Presently, there are under 100 immigration attorneys that Avvo bestows its highest rating (10.0 Superb) upon. How do you choose between these attorneys?
- You can search attorneys by location although in many cases, it is irrelevant where an immigration attorney is located;
- You can study the profiles of each of the attorneys that you are interested in. Don’t just read what they say about themselves. Everyone wants to looks good. Pay more attention to what their clients have to say about them.
- Avvo allows you to ask questions to lawyers online for free. Although obtaining the answer to a single question may not help you a lot, it may be helpful to see which lawyers take the time to provide you with an intelligent answer.
- Avvo has a useful feature which allows you to compare one attorney against another. Let’s say that you have clicked the box near the top of the Avvo screen entitled “Find a Lawyer”. Next, type in the word “Immigration” in the box below, and if you wish, your location to the right. Then click the green box marked “Find Lawyers”. Let’s say that you typed “Immigration” and “California”. Avvo will display the profiles of over 800 different attorneys in order of their Avvo rankings. To the right of their names and just above their ranking, there are small boxes. Use your mouse to check the boxes of the attorneys who you are interested in. Then, at the bottom of the screen, click the green box “Compare”. Avvo lists summary information from each lawyer’s profile. From this, you can choose which lawyers you want to contact.
Is Avvo perfect? Of course not! And neither is TripAdvisor.com in choosing hotels and Yelp.com in choosing restaurants. However, my wife and I consult both of these websites, and find that they are accurate about 90% of the time.
In order to consider other factors which I believe are important in choosing an immigration attorney, watch our video Immigration Lawyers: What to Know Before You Hire One.