Meeting A Lawyer – Your First Appointment
This fact sheet provides information about how to prepare for and what to expect from your first meeting with Thomas J. Geygan, Jr., an immigration lawyer.
How can I prepare for my first appointment?
There are several things you can do to prepare for your first appointment:
• Gather together all relevant documents (letters of demand, contracts, loan agreements, etc.) and put them in order;
• Write down a brief timeline of events;
• List the issues about which you are concerned because of your legal problem; and
• Think about what you would like the result to be, as this will help the lawyer to know whether your expectations are achievable.
This will assist Mr. Geygan in giving you accurate and relevant advice. We have included suggested questions at the end of this fact sheet.
I’m feeling worried and nervous.
Mr. Geygan understands that clients may feel anxious about discussing their matter with him. To help you feel comfortable, you can ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment. It is helpful to let us know before your appointment that you intend to bring someone with you for support.
Please remember that Mr. Geygan may ask your support person to leave for part of the interview if his or her presence seems unhelpful in communicating with you, or if he needs to discuss confidential information with you.
Will my first appointment be free?
Mr. Geygan offers a no-cost, half-hour initial consultation. Additional time beyond that will be charged at his usual rate.
What can I expect from my first appointment?
During this appointment, you will learn: (1) Mr. Geygan’s specific recommendations and your best options; (2) your chances of approval with Mr. Geygan’s representation; and (3) how much the case will cost. There is no obligation to hire Mr. Geygan for your case after the consultation appointment. Instead, you will walk out of the appointment with a true sense of clarity of what you should do next to regain control of your immigration case and your future.
What can I do to save money?
If you are worried about money, you should ask Mr. Geygan what you can do to help keep costs down.
Remember that Mr. Geygan usually charges a flat fee for the time spent on your case. This means he will not charge you every time you call, email or write to him.
When looking to save costs, consider:
• Photocopying your own documents at your local library or copy center.
• If you cannot reach Mr. Geygan, leaving a clear and detailed message may remove the need for him to call you back.
• Be honest and tell Mr. Geygan everything about your legal matter, no matter how trivial it may seem to you. This will allow him to manage your matter efficiently from the start. Remember, what you tell Mr. Geygan privately is kept secret under the attorney/client privilege.
Will Mr. Geygan tell me how to handle my case by myself?
Do not arrange a case evaluation if you are trying to file the case on your own, without an attorney. Mr. Geygan will not tell you how to file your case, what documents or forms to use, or otherwise instruct you on doing it yourself. This would be known as ghosting, which is unethical for an attorney, and illegal.
Why should I hire a competent immigration lawyer?
• An attorney can recommend the best ways for you to obtain legal status and utilize the system to your advantage because he has the experience to do so.
• An attorney can complete and submit your applications properly so you don’t waste money on re-filing forms that were incorrectly filed, or delay receiving vital authorization to work or, worse, fall out of lawful immigration status because you filed the wrong forms or did not file them on time.
• An attorney can help you stay current on the new laws that affect you and will act as your guide and interpreter through the ever-changing and complicated field of immigration law and the legal language. Generalized information is not a substitute for a detailed, fully-informed analysis of your situation.
• An attorney is authorized to speak for you in discussions with the USCIS (INS) or represent you in court.
• When meeting with Mr. Geygan, he can alert you to potential unlawful presence or other problems you could encounter in trying to get your green card or in trying to re-enter the U.S. if you should leave, information you may not understand or even know of on your own.
Beware of unlicensed operators who promise immigration benefits or assistance for less than what an attorney would charge you. These individuals commonly refer to themselves as “immigration consultants” and advertise in local ethnic newspapers and yellow pages. They are not accountable to anyone, have no ethical standards to which they must comply, are not licensed, and worst of all, they are known for taking people’s money and doing nothing. Some may even lie to the government in your name for a quick, simple solution that in the end may result in your deportation or permanent exclusion from the U.S.
Also, watch out for notaries (“notarios”), service bureaus, travel agents, or others who promise quick, easy solutions to immigration problems. Beware of lawyers from other countries who are not licensed to practice in the U.S. and do not know U.S. laws, people who say they “know someone” who has an “inside track,” or anyone who wants money to influence or bribe a CIS (INS) official.
What if I don’t understand what Mr. Geygan has told me?
You have the right to be fully informed and to understand what work is being done on your behalf. If you do not understand something Mr. Geygan has said or the legal terms he has used, you can ask for an explanation in terms you can understand. You may bring an interpreter if you need one.
Does Mr. Geygan have to do everything I ask?
No. Mr. Geygan has a duty to give you honest and accurate legal advice. He does not have to do all you ask him to do if it contradicts his advice, or especially if it goes against his overriding duty to the courts.
Initial Questions To Ask, Prior To Discussing Your Case:
• Where did you graduate and when?
• What is the focus of your practice?
• How long have you been practicing immigration law?
• Do you belong to any professional associations?
• Are you a member of AILA?
• Can you provide references?
• Will you put our agreement in writing?
• Have you ever been professionally disciplined?
Details of Your Situation
Explain your situation to the attorney, fully. Tell the good, bad and what you are most concerned about. Do not worry about using legal terms; just explain your situation and what you want from the attorney. Remember, your conversation is protected by attorney/client privilege and the attorney cannot share what you tell with anyone.
Bring passports and copies of documents filed with and received from immigration for the attorney to look at. Do not give these documents to the attorney, unless you are going to hire the attorney at that meeting.
Questions To Ask After You Have Explained Your Situation
• Have you worked on cases similar to mine?
• What actions will you take immediately and what will follow?
• How busy are you right now and when can you start on my case?
• Who will be working on my case besides you?
• How will we communicate with each other?
• What are my chances of a positive outcome?
• What can I do or what can I give you to improve my chances for success?
• Can you give me an estimate of how long it will take to resolve my case?
• What is your rate and what is your best estimate of the total cost?
• What processes do you have in place to help me keep my benefit in regards to future filing requirements and changing laws?