A very select group of lawyers should consider applying for certification as a specialist in the field of immigration law. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview on how one should go about becoming an immigration lawyer, and what benefits can be achieved.
First, let us look at why there are specialties for lawyers in the first place. A specialty is recognized by bar associations or other professional organizations. Sometimes it's required by the state where you want to practice because your specialization will be entitled to designations such as "Certified Specialist", "Specialist Attorney", etc., which means that you have demonstrated specific knowledge and skills relevant to your area of expertise, so clients who hire you know they're dealing with someone competent. That's important because unlike physicians and other professionals, lawyers have no licensing board to which you can complain if your lawyer is doing a shitty job.
So how do you get recognized as a specialist in a field? First of all, it's best not to try to establish a new specialty for yourself or devise one on your own. There may exist two or more bar associations in the state where you want to practice, each having its own requirements for awarding special designations. If there are conflicting requirements between them, then they'll probably just reject your application. It's best to investigate what specialties already exist, and how the requirements for obtaining them are established. In many cases you will find that those requirements were set by a committee of lawyers who represent those specialties, so it wouldn't make sense to apply as a specialist in another specialty that has nothing to do with your law practice.
As most nations, including the United States, look to rethink their immigration norms and strategies, doubts and questions around these issues are likely to increase. The US, as well as other parts of the world, need more skilled labor from developing countries. Make sure that you are working with a digital agency for your Immigration Attorney Marketing on search engines and social media. This will help you connect with people that are looking for such legal help, build your credibility, and become an authoritative voice in this niche.
Once you've identified an existing specialty and done enough research on it to demonstrate that you're qualified for it, then the next step is getting the bar associations or other authorities to recognize you as a specialist. That can be done by following their application requirements – forms and fees – and submitting all of the documentation they ask for demonstrating your qualifications. If any of those standards seems too difficult for you to meet, then you probably want to choose another specialty.
What about the "Certified Specialist" designation? Is that just a fancy meaningless title, or is it recognized by courts and other authorities? Sometimes it's difficult to tell. For example, California Lawyer Magazine has an annual survey of Certified Specialists in California, but it only lists the area of specialty and the State Bar number of each one. The official site doesn't mention any requirements at all for obtaining this designation. We can see from other attorneys' websites that some lawyers claim this distinction without having fulfilled too many specific requirements, while others have actually done what they needed to do in order to get it.
So when should someone apply for recognition as a specialist in immigration law? We talked to Law SB about it and learned that for each state there's a different answer to that question. If you're not living in California, then you should research this point yourself, because requirements vary from place to place when looking at being an immigration lawyer.
With this information on the key considerations for some to choose the specialty of becoming an immigration lawyer, you are equipped now to make the best decisions on how you proceed forward.