Are we ‘expensive’? - IMMIGRATION CORNER by Michael J. Gurfinkel

Dear Atty. Gurfinkel:

I have an immigration problem, and need a good lawyer. My case had been handled by two other attorneys, but had been denied. I was told my case is too difficult or hopeless.

I would like to hire you as my attorney, but I have heard from your competitors, and from gossip in the community, that you are expensive. Is this true?

Very truly yours,

Dear R.F.:

I welcome your question, because I am also aware of people saying I am expensive, and I’m not afraid to address this issue.

The price or cost of legal services can depend on a number of factors, including:

– Whether a case involves previous denials, fraud, etc.

– Complexity and difficulty of the legal matter.

– Amount of time and work to be spent on the case.

If a case is difficult or complicated, then it is logical that it would require more time, paperwork, and effort to handle. Just like in medicine, if a person has a headache, an aspirin could "cure" the ailment at a very low price. But if the person has a brain tumor, and extensive surgery is needed, the "treatment" would obviously be more expensive. A person cannot expect to remove a brain tumor for the price of an aspirin.

The same is true with a person’s immigration case. If the case is simple, straightforward, and has no previous denials or fraud, then the price or cost is a lot less than a case with lots of problems, complications, suspicious circumstances, or denials. So, when people start comparing prices or costs, it is important that they compare the same type of cases or problems. You can’t compare the price of a simple case to the price of a difficult or complex one. If the case is simple and straightforward, the price is less.

I know that some people think they can save money, by having work done by "immigration consultants". However, immigration consultants are not lawyers, and are prohibited from practicing law, or even offering legal advice. Many "clients" of these consultants end up with more problems than they had before, and these consultants were even charging the same prices as attorneys.

In fact, my wife, who is a Filipina (and my office manager with a degree in Business Economics) continually surveys and monitors the "market", making sure that our prices are competitive with other law offices, based on the various factors which determine price. Our prices depend on the complexity and difficulty of the cases. Many of our cases are complex, had been previously denied, or had been handled by other attorneys who eventually just "gave up". In fact, some of the cases I am most proud of include:

– A woman was charged with trying to bring two kids "not her own" (the blood tests of mother and children did not match). We nevertheless took on the case and got visas for the children by proving that the blood tests were not reliable or inconclusive.

– Despite a family’s earlier use of fake birth certificates, and other fraud, we were able to get a greencard for the daughter who arrived in the U.S. three days before her 21st birthday.

– After a woman’s visa was revoked due to "alien smuggling" charges. We took the case, cleared her name alien smuggling, and got her a greencard.

– We obtained greencards for a man’s three undeclared, illegitimate children, even though when he got his own greencard, he told the Embassy he had no children.

– We obtained a court order requiring the INS to retroactively grant a greencard to a client who had "aged-out" (or reached the age of 21), despite opinions by several other attorneys who said it was "impossible" to win the case.

The list of complex cases we have handled could go on and on, but I am proud of our track record of success with these difficult cases. While a person should certainly consider price in choosing an attorney, no one can argue with the fact that results are "priceless".

In addition, I am a firm believer in providing the best quality service to our clients and their cases. Our office has attorneys (not paralegals) handling the case. Our attorneys provide the legal advice to clients, while paralegals only assist the attorneys. (Other offices have paralegals handle cases from start to finish. Those offices can charge less, because a paralegal’s salary is less than an attorney’s.) I also believe that clients’ calls are very important, so we make sure that all clients’ telephone calls are returned within 24 hours. As soon as there are any developments on a client’s case, we immediately notify them, so they always know what is going on. Our clients are never in the dark about their case, or feel that they are being ignored.

In a further effort to provide the best quality service to our clients, we have an office in the Philippines, to accommodate your family back home with consular processing needs. I can tell you it costs a lot of money in terms of rent, employee salaries, computers, and supplies to run an office. Although it costs a lot of money to keep the Philippine office open, I believe my clients are worth it, so that we can immediately attend to what may be needed in the Philippines (especially with the Embassy), and the family in America is assured that their relatives in the Philippines are taken cared of.

In conclusion, paying more for quality service is better than paying less and getting nothing.

Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for 20 years. He has always excelled in school: Valedictorian in High School; Cum Laude at UCLA; and Law Degree Honors and academic scholar at Loyola Law School, which is one of the top law schools in California. He is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

His offices are located at 219 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, California, 91203 Telephone: (818) 543-5800. His Makati office is located at Heart Tower, Unit 701, 108 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati, Philippines; Telephone: 894-0258 or 894-0239. For more information about the Law Offices of Michael J. Gurfinkel, and to read previously published articles, please visit our website at www.gurfinkel.com

(This is for informational purposes only, and reflects the firm’s opinions and views on general issues. No prediction, warranty or guarantee can be made about the results of any case. Should you need or want legal advice, you should consult with and retain counsel of your own choice.)











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