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Ethical Issues for Immigration lawyers

Attorneys in all legal practice areas face ethics issues regularly, but immigration lawyers must address challenging ethical questions because they tend to represent a very vulnerable population. The clients are not familiar with the US legal system, so they are unaware of their rights. This may lead some lawyers to fall into bad habits because they are not as concerned about malpractice lawsuits or complaints to the State Bar of Texas. Attorneys often assume clients will not risk deportation by taking action. However, the threat of litigation is very real, so it is worthwhile to review some of the most important ethics issues for immigration lawyers.

General Legal Ethics

Attorneys practicing in any area of law must adhere to the Texas rules of professional responsibility, which include:

  • Duties regarding the objectives of the representation, prohibiting a lawyer from assisting the client in criminal or fraudulent activity;
  • The obligations to avoid conflicts of interest, which often arise in immigration matters involving families;
  • The responsibility to communicate regularly with clients and keep them reasonably informed about the status of the immigration case; and,
  • Other ethical duties designated by law.

Special Considerations for Immigration Attorneys

There are some ethical issues that are unique to immigration lawyers, mainly because this area of law involves federal administrative practice. Ethics questions may come up in the context of:

  • Multi-Jurisdictional Issues: An attorney admitted to practice in Texas may engage in activities that amount to practicing in additional states. Immigration clients may be on the move to work in a second state, while the immigration office handling the case is in a third jurisdiction. It is important to understand which jurisdictional rules apply.
  • Complaints: The federal immigration legal system includes regulations regarding how to handle complaints against attorneys in connection with immigration cases. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), under the umbrella of the US Department of Justice, is tasked with lawyer grievances.
  • Immigration Statutes: There are multiple laws in the Immigration and Nationality Act that could raise ethics questions for attorneys, especially those that sanction anyone who knowingly assists a person who is applying for immigration benefits. Plus, the EOIR has published a list of 13 examples of conduct that would be grounds for sanctions against an attorney.

Discuss Ethics Issues for Immigration Attorneys with a Skilled Texas Lawyer

Immigration lawyer ethics are complex because of how they relate to federal administrative law, so it is important to retain experienced legal counsel to represent you if you are facing a claim or complaint. Please contact the Campbell & Associates Law Firm, P.C. in Dallas, TX to set up a consultation to discuss your circumstances.