Make Hay While the Sun Shines - 245(i) and Immigration Law Practice
Firstly, attorneys should realize the magnitude of this opportunity. Some people tend to demonize immigration attorneys as "rich fat-cats," when the reality is far different. Most immigration attorneys I know work 50 to 60 hours a week, and take home a very modest amount.2 True, some business immigration lawyers have made millions, but these are the tiny minority. For many immigration practitioners their work is a labor of love. They fight hard for their clients, including many treated unjustly by our government or fleeing persecution from other governments overseas. The practice of immigration law is hard toil for modest reward. One can make a living in this field, but riches elude most attorneys. Essentially, immigration attorneys run what amounts to a small business. They are thus in the same boat as most small businesspersons in America, such as laundromat owners or pizza-shop owners. The financial rewards tend to be about the same - a modest reward for hard work.
Against this background, 245(i) offers many immigration attorneys the plausible prospect of making a bundle. To illustrate the size of the bundle, I offer a real-world example. A solo practitioner with a small practice had worked hard all his life and was nearing retirement age in late 1997. You will recall that prior to its recent temporary revival, 245(i) was last available on January 14, 1998. For almost a lifetime of hard work, all he had to show was a modest home in a modest suburb and a bank balance too small to retire on. Toward end-1997, he knew that 245(i) would shortly expire, and most of his business with it. About 45 days before the 245(i) deadline, he sent out a letter to each and every person on his mailing list of a few thousand immigrants who had contacted his office and who could be 245(i) beneficiaries. In the few weeks before January 14, 1998, he took in cases which netted his law practice over $1,000,000. After expenses of running the office, what he took home was, of course, less, but the money he earned in those few weeks is now his retirement nest egg. The purpose of this real-life illustration is to make the point that there is considerable financial opportunity for much of the immigration bar between now and April 30. Attorneys can take on one year's worth of cases in the next ten weeks. Therefore, it behooves lawyers to give serious attention to their plans for running their practices for the next ten weeks.
The law-office management practice-pointers for these next ten weeks can be broadly grouped into two time periods: (A) What should be done now? (B) What should be done in the last two weeks of April? Each of these is discussed below.
What should be done NOW?
What should be done in the last two weeks of April?
My aim for this article is to alert attorneys to the problem, and outline the scope of the opportunity. If this article sets you thinking, you will be preparing to grow your practice and simultaneously to assist your clients in the exciting weeks to come.
1The omnibus federal spending bill enacted December 21, 2000, provides that beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions or labor certification cases filed by April 30, 2001, can adjust under section 245(i) if they were physically present in the US on December 21, 2000.
2This will doubtless come as news to some detractors of immigration and to some clients of immigration attorneys.
3If you have a large practice, your ability to make a difference in immigrants' lives is now correspondingly large, and the points in this article apply with particular force to you.
About The Author Sam Udani has written articles on labor certification for several law journals, and has lectured on
labor certification to many bar associations across the country. He has assisted hundreds of attorneys on labor certification matters. He is a member of the ILW.COM team and invites attorneys seeking 245(i) clients to become ILW.COM members by clicking here: http://www.ilw.com/membership
Sam Udani has written articles on labor certification for several law journals, and has lectured on labor certification to many bar associations across the country. He has assisted hundreds of attorneys on labor certification matters. He is a member of the ILW.COM team and invites attorneys seeking 245(i) clients to become ILW.COM members by clicking here: http://www.ilw.com/membership
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