Most of the large law firms in Canada do not provide immigration services. The area is generally covered by lawyers who practice independently.
Choosing a good lawyer requires research, and may include the following:
This is the most reliable factor. Clients who have had a good experience will refer friends and relatives. A good lawyer should be able to put forwarded satisfied clients as references.
Canadian immigration policy undergoes continuous change. A specialist, generally defined as having more than 10 years of full-time experience, is more likely to be abreast of those changes.
Some lawyers are vastly experienced. This does not automatically translate to expertise, but it is an important factor.
This is required by all Professional Orders. You should receive a detailed written contract from your lawyer.
Funds “in trust”
Applicants should make fees payable to the lawyer or law firm “in trust”.
This is a condition demanded by Professional Orders.
Client fees are held in a separate trust account monitored by the Professional Order. This provides a good indication the lawyer in question adheres to current rules.
Applicants should be cautious about making any payment to a corporate entity, regardless of the recipient.
A lawyer should thoroughly outline the entire application process, in writing. The best-known practices will do so at no charge.
Some lawyers can be found through advertising. Potential clients should not use advertising alone in selecting a lawyer. Do more research first.
Lawyers will normally have websites to promote their services. Prominent lawyers may also have an established social media network. Look for lawyers who write regular content on sites with in-depth information and analysis. Steer clear of law firms with sites containing a small number of outdated pages and minimal information copied from the government. A lawyer’s expertise should come across on their site content. You may also find free assessments which offer an initial insight into your chances of success.
Accomplished and experienced immigration lawyers will regularly write articles appearing in industry publications.
It is a good idea to request samples of the lawyer’s published articles. Remember to differentiate between generic pieces with elementary content and those showing in-depth knowledge and analysis.
Canadian Bar Association
Most lawyers in Canada are members of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA).
The CBA has an immigration section with representatives in each province.
More accomplished lawyers serve as executive members of the CBA and participate in the exchange of ideas with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
This can indicate a lawyer has an up-to-date knowledge of the field.
All lawyers must be registered with a Professional Order in their province.
However, this registration is no measure of expertise.
Simply speaking with a lawyer will give an indication of professionalism.
You get an immediate indication of level of service, commitment and insight.
Ask the lawyer to clearly assess the process at hand. They should have no problem doing this.