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How to find a free U.S. immigration attorney: three proven ways

If you want to hire an immigration lawyer in the USA, you will notice that the cost of their services varies greatly. Some ask for tens of thousands of dollars for one thing. Prices of large immigration firms are usually in the range of $ 8-10 thousand. The so-called low-paid lawyers ask up to $ 5 thousand for one case, for example, asylum, writes Politadvice.

Photo: Shutterstock

But what if you do not have money for a lawyer, and even a small fee for an ordinary human rights activist is too high? You can do it yourself (usually not a good idea) or go to pro bono (a public defender).

Pro bono (short for pro bono publico) is a Latin phrase meaning “for the public good”. In the modern interpretation, this is interpreted as "the lawyer will do the work for free, without requiring money from the client."

There are three different types of public attorneys:

  • Charity lawyers
  • Law School Lawyers
  • Private lawyers who volunteer in their spare time

Each of these types has its advantages and disadvantages. The strategies for finding a lawyer in each category are also slightly different.

Charity organisations

An extensive list of such organizations can be found on the website. Immigration Office (hereinafter - EOIR). This agency actually operates the country's immigration courts. The list is filtered by state, which is quite convenient when searching. If you don’t see your location, click on the nearest state and you will see charities operating near your region. American Association of Immigration Lawyers (the association of private and non-profit lawyers) has a similar and probably more complete list. Many of the organizations represented on these lists are free. Some of them charge a “nominal fee” (although they say that in some cases a “nominal fee” of thousands of dollars was required, however, this is the exception rather than the norm). It is worth noting that most of these organizations will not get down to business if they are sure that you can pay for the services.

The main disadvantage of charitable organizations is that they can be busy and there simply will not be time to consider your case. In particular, this applies to cases when it is necessary to consider the matter as soon as possible. If you are lucky enough to receive help from a charitable organization, they will help you with their own resources or find volunteers who will work under their supervision. Non-profit organizations train and supervise volunteer lawyers very well, so in most cases you get a good representative as part of your business.

On the subject: Situations when it is absolutely necessary to hire an immigration lawyer

How can I get support from one of these charities? This is often very difficult. You will need to call them, write an e-mail, personally visit a number of organizations until you find one that is ready to help you. Here you need to be persistent and check any options. If one of the organizations cannot take your case, find out if they can recommend someone else. Sometimes it may seem that finding a lawyer in a charity is like a full-time job. But those who make efforts, most often find a good representative for themselves.

Law schools

Another type of free presentation is law schools. Many of them have programs in which law professors oversee law students based on real cases. Students perform all the actual work on the case. This list (in Excel format) from the Law Professors Blog Network is a great place to start. In addition, if you try to enter the Law School Immigration Clinic query in the search engine and add the name of the city, you can find some result. Again, these schools receive a large number of requests for assistance, and their resources, like those of charitable organizations, are also limited. Therefore, sometimes it is difficult to find someone who could take up your business.

If you are represented by a law school, you will work mainly with students, since the goal of the school is to provide students with experience through working with real cases. And here the obvious question arises: can law students adequately represent the applicant in the case. However, they fill the lack of experience with enthusiasm and energy. Observations also show that the work of such schools is positive. One of the main problems when looking for a human rights defender in such schools is that the time for consideration of a case should be in accordance with the educational institution's schedule. Sometimes this leads to delays or, conversely, to an accelerated consideration of the case.

On the subject: How to choose an immigration lawyer and avoid fraud

Free software

Many law firms have programs in which they will help you for free. Most often, clients get to them through charitable organizations, but firms can communicate with people directly. If you have friends in the law firm (or acquaintances of acquaintances), you can find out about the availability of such programs. If the lawyer is not familiar with the matters of affairs on your topic, most likely he will cooperate with one of the non-profit organizations that will monitor his work. Typically, charities happily collaborate with volunteer lawyers.

Finding a public defender is often difficult. Free resources are limited, and there are a lot of willing people. But if you are actively looking for all possible options, then you will certainly succeed in finding a good lawyer.

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