Approximately four percent of the population of Louisiana is comprised of immigrants. Too often, these residents are underserved in the legal field despite the fact they have certain rights afforded to them by simply being present in the United States. A broader look at this population shows of the immigrant population in Louisiana, nearly one-half are either undocumented, or have at least one family member who is undocumented.
Rights of Undocumented Residents in Louisiana
Regardless of whether a resident of Louisiana is documented or undocumented, there are certain civil rights which are afforded to them. Protections offered under the U.S. Constitution also extend to immigrants despite what many people may believe. Too often, immigrants, both documented and undocumented avoid seeking legal help when they need it because they are concerned about being turned in to Immigration Services. Remember, when you need a lawyer, you are offered certain protections, regardless of your immigration status.
Searching for the Right Legal Counsel for Foreigners
One challenge for many in Louisiana is finding an attorney who not only understands the legal problems a foreigner is facing, but someone who is able to speak the same language. After all, if you are working with a law firm you must be able to communicate effectively so they understand the problems you are facing, and can help provide you with the legal assistance you need in understandable terms. Here are some of the issues you should consider when seeking legal help:
- Meets your legal needs — ideally, you will want a firm who understands working with foreigners both in Louisiana and abroad who face the same legal issues you are facing. While a family law case that pertains specifically to two parties who both live and work in Louisiana, in some cases, there are two people living in very different jurisdictions. Having an attorney who understands how to successfully navigate these challenging situations is important.
- Language barriers addressed — all too often, language barriers prevent proper communication with an attorney. If your first language is not English, miscommunication errors can occur. This can be avoided by working with a law firm who has attorneys on staff who speak your native language.
Once you have addressed these two significant issues, you can begin looking at other factors which may be important to you including:
- Communication skills — there are few things more frustrating than hiring a legal representative who does not communicate with you. You want a law firm which will provide you with updates on the status of your case as well as be available to answer questions you may have. Communication matters when you are involved in a legal matter and if you are not comfortable your attorney will communicate regularly with you, it may be worth thinking about hiring someone else.
- Professional skills — experience matters when you have a pending legal matter. Finding a competent attorney to represent is important. One of the measures of competency and professionalism is how often the firm gets referrals from other law firms, and how often their clients return. Do not be afraid to ask that question when you are searching for the right legal counsel.
- Fees and other costs — while you understand the right lawyer may not always be the one who offers the lowest fees, what you do not want to do is hire a lawyer who will run up unnecessary costs. Discuss your case with your attorney and ask them to give you a best case/worst case scenario on what their services will cost. This can help you make a more informed decision before hiring a lawyer.
- Compassion and caring — when dealing with a lawyer, you want someone who will treat you with dignity and respect. Your attorney must be willing to treat your legal challenges without you feeling they are being judgmental.
Bad Decisions Occur in Times of Stress
One reason why you should use caution when hiring an attorney is because we all tend to make rash decisions when we are under duress. Let’s face it, any time we have turned to a lawyer for help, it probably means we are facing a legal challenge we know we cannot resolve on our own.
Therefore, doing your research is important before you sign any agreements which bind you to an attorney. Make sure you understand what fees you will be paying, how those fees must be paid and what payment arrangements are acceptable. Make you’re your attorney explains any fees outside of their payment such as court appearance costs, document preparation costs, etc. as these additional fees can add up.
We know most people think they will never need an attorney to help them protect their rights, serve as an advocate because they are facing criminal charges, or help them navigate the complex immigration system. But the fact is, at some point or another you may need those services and when you do, you want someone to work with you who will take the time to listen, explain what options are available to you, and help you throughout the legal process. Finding that attorney is easier than ever when you work with our firm. We are committed to doing everything possible to help you through the legal problems you are facing. We will work tirelessly for the right outcome, and help protect your rights from the day you hire us.
When you need legal assistance with matters pertaining to family law, immigration issues, criminal law, collections or if you need the right legal translation and interpreter services, you can count on a local law firm, Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC, which offers you big firm experience with small firm values. We are committed to working towards the best possible outcome for every client we work with.
Those who need legal help with a matter which must be handled in Louisiana and speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, English or another language contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC, at 504-523-6496 to speak with one of our attorneys. Let us help you resolve your legal issue and show you why so many of our clients return when they need additional legal help and refer their friends to us.