Now that you have decided to retain an attorney to assist you with
your legal matter, there are several questions you should ask as you
seek legal counsel. The following questions and answers
describe our firm and the service we provide to each of our clients
to ensure your case is handled expeditiously with the professional
competence you deserve.
- What are your legal credentials?
Are you an attorney licensed to practice law?
Are you an attorney licensed to practice in your state?
What courts are you licensed to practice before?
Have you ever been disciplined or suspended from the practice of
When seeking legal counsel, it is critical that you hire a
licensed attorney who is qualified to practice law where your
case will be handled. In the immigration field, many individuals
claim to be legal consultants or paralegals who will charge for
filling in forms or translation services. If these individuals
charge for legal advice of any kind, they could be breaking the
law and should be reported. It is important that your attorney
is licensed to practice before the Department of Homeland
Security and Executive Office for Immigration Review. If your
case may require an appeal, it is important that your attorney
is admitted before the relevant Federal Courts, usually the
Federal District Court or Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. If
your case requires any appearance in State court, such as
domestic violence protective orders or divorce proceedings, it
is important that your attorney is admitted in your state by the
Alaska Bar Association. This is also important in disciplinary
actions as the Alaska Bar Association can only discipline
attorneys who are licensed in Alaska.
Rebecca Maxey is an attorney licensed by the Alaska Bar
Association, and admitted to practice law in the state of
Alaska, as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the
U.S. Supreme Court. As a licensed attorney in the States of
Alaska, she is able to represent clients in matters of Alaska
State law and federal proceedings, including cases before the
Department of Homeland Security and Executive Office for
Immigration Review. She has never been disciplined nor suspended
from the practice of law in any forum.
- What experience do you have working in
How long have you been practicing in this field or area of law?
Have you ever handled cases like mine before?
Immigration law is a very specific and narrow area of law. When
looking for an attorney to assist you in an immigration matter,
it is helpful to seek an attorney who has experience handling
cases such as yours. You may also want to ask if he or she has
seen similar facts as yours, and how often he or she has
appeared before the judges of the immigration court where your
case will be heard, or the immigration office where you will be
interviewed. You may wish to inquire as to which practice groups
or professional organizations an attorney belongs to that are
used to keep an attorney up to date on the rapidly changing
developments and changes in the field of immigration law.
Rebecca Maxey has been working exclusively in the field of
immigration law since 1997, initially as a paralegal with two
Alaska based law firms, and since 2000 as a licensed attorney.
She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association
where she served a term as an Executive Officer for the its
young lawyers division. She is also a member of the Immigration
Section of the Alaska Bar Association, and the Immigration
Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Over the last 12+ years
she has represented over 1000 clients from more than --
countries in their successful quests for legal status in the
United States. These individuals have included over 100
individuals in removal/deportation proceedings before the
Immigration Court and over 100 asylum applicants.
- Who will be working on my case?
Many times law firms will employ support staff to assist in the
production of legal cases. These may include junior associates,
paralegals, interns and other support staff from his or her firm
to work on a case. It is important to inquire which aspects of
your case the attorney will handle personally and how any
support staff will be supervised. Be sure to ask the lawyer
about the experience level and billing rates of anyone working
on your case.
Our office employs highly trained individuals who are employed
as paralegals, law clerks, interns and translators to assist
with information gathering and case production. These assistants
are critical to the timely production and completion of our
cases, and are fully supervised by the attorney they are
appointed to. They are also held to the same levels required by
our strict code of confidentiality.
- What are your fees?
The subject of fees is very important to clients and law firms
alike. It is very important that you understand the fee
structure of a law firm and follow through on the agreed terms.
During your initial consultation with a lawyer, the subject of
fees should be addressed unless there is additional information
needed to fully assess a case. Some immigration attorneys charge
fixed fees for certain services like a fiancé petition or
naturalization case. Other cases require hourly rates for legal
services. Depending on your legal matter, you may be able to
recover the fees you pay to your attorney from the opposing side
because the fees are recoverable by statute or by contract, or
from an employer based insurance program. Be sure you understand
exactly how fees will be assessed before retaining an attorney.
It is also important to understand that any estimate that a
lawyer gives you is just that—an estimate based on an attorney’s
assessment of your case, current immigration laws and policies,
previous experience in handling similar cases, and the facts you
provide. If you retain your attorney on anything other than a
fixed fee basis, be sure to check in regularly to make sure that
the fees are staying within the range that you expect them to
Our offices charges a consultation fee for any initial
immigration matter, except where the fee is waived before hand
for existing clients involved in conjoining matters. We will
normally be able to assess whether your case is appropriate for
a flat fee or hourly fee at the initial consultation. This
determination is normally based on the type of matter presented,
and the complexity of the specific issues unique to each case.
In addition to legal fees, you will be responsible for
administrative costs such as copying, faxing, postage,
government filing fees, travel expenses, bills for
investigators, experts, court reporting services, etc. These are
the normal fees assessed in the production of cases. We would
review any unusual costs and fees with you for your approval.
- What can I do to help my case and
There are often many things you can do to help your own case and
minimize your attorney fees such as providing all relevant
documents and information to your attorney, providing contact
information for all persons relevant to the matter, and putting
together a timeline of events related to the case. The time you
spend doing these things is time your attorney does not have to
spend, and this will ultimately save you money, especially when
your case is being handled on an hourly basis.
- What are my chances of success?
What are my alternatives outcomes
What are my risks
How long will it take my before my case is resolved?
Even though your case may seem similar to others you have seen
it is important to understand that each case is unique. Your
lawyer should be able to lay out your options regarding your
case, the types of applications you may be eligible for, and the
chances each has in prevailing. But a lawyer cannot and should
not guarantee a particular outcome. Ask your lawyer to identify
for you the strengths and weaknesses of your case and to explain
the pros and cons of each of pursuing each of the options he or
she says you have. The answers to these questions may determine
how you proceed with your immigration matter, depending on the
specific facts and issues involved in your case – what
applications you might pursue or how you might defend charges
against you, and even whether you want to proceed with the
matter at all.
It’s also a good idea to ask your potential lawyer how long he
or she thinks the case will take to resolve. Again, this will
help you better understand how much time and money you could be
investing in your legal matter. Keep in mind, though, that there
are many variables that could prolong your case—especially in
immigration where your attorney will not always be able to
control what a government official may do.
- How will you keep me updated on the
progress of my case?
You should discuss with your attorney how you prefer to
communicate regarding case status. Some clients prefer verbal
updates by phone, some prefer email updates, while others prefer
to receive a status update by mail. Be sure that your attorney
is aware of your expectations in terms of responding to your
calls and emails, updating you regarding the status of your
case, and including you in substantive decisions about the
handling of your matter. Keep in mind, though, that your
attorney will likely charge you for any time you spend
communicating by phone, email or correspondence about your case.
It is our practice to forward copies of any applications,
responses, and other correspondence regarding your case to you
upon receipt. It is also our policy to return any telephone
calls or emails by the end of the second business day or sooner.
You are always free to call back if you have not heard from us
within a reasonable period.