It feels good to win an asylum case, particularly a case where the client faces a real danger in the home country, or where winning seemed unlikely. But one thing Iíve noticed about winning Ė that good feeling doesnít last long.
Itís better for court cases, when you are actually present to hear the decision. Since youíre not in the office, the win can be savored for a while; at least until you return to work. With most Asylum Office victories, you receive the result by mail, so you might have a good couple minutes when you call the client to congratulate her. After that, itís back to the grind stone.
Losing, on the other hand, is a different story. When you lose an asylum case, you need to explain to the client what went wrong. If youíve screwed up, you need to explain that too, and hopefully in a way that doesnít generate a bar complaint. If itís the clientís fault, you need to be diplomaticĖwhy add insult to injury? And even if you have done everything right, itís hard not to feel guilty when a client loses his case. Maybe you could have done more? Of course, you can always do more, and since you lost the case, you clearly should have.
You also need to explain the appeals process, and how much you charge. You have to discuss the chances for success on appeal. For most clients, this is a conversation that you will have more than once.
And then, of course, you actually have to do the appeal. These are a lot of work. If the appeal is with the BIA, you wonít receive a decision for a year or two. During that time, the client will call repeatedly to ask why there is no decision. If you lose an appeal with the BIA, you then have to explain the process in the federal circuit courts and start the whole process again.
So whatís the lesson here? According to a recent survey of asylum advocates in the U.S. and the UK, we need to take time to celebrate our successes. Many advocates report that there are moments of great joy in their work. For these advocates, seeing individuals that they have supported win asylum is a strong source of motivation. Even though we are busy, we should take time to savor our wins. We help make peopleís lives better. If we take some time to appreciate our successes, it will help us enjoy our work more, and that will make us better advocates for our clients.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.