If you are calling your immigration attorney’s office and find yourself asking this question, your case may be in serious trouble. Recently, I have been contacted by scores of individuals seeking consultation on their cases because they cannot ascertain who is supposed to be taking care of their cases at the law firm they retained! Although this sounds absurd, the problem is that the “big” firms they hired have a serious problem with employee turnover: attorneys quitting their jobs and leaving their cases behind.
People seeking an attorney are always in a vulnerable position. They have a problem, which is difficult to solve, and need help to solve their problem. When they consult with an attorney, they share their most personal and confidential secrets relating to their problem with the attorney, in hopes that the attorney can help them. They will retain that attorney if they feel confident in his abilities and comfortable with his personality.
In Immigration cases, however, the problem for which an attorney is sought may take several months, if not years, to resolve. The most important assurance a client desires is that his attorney will be “on the vase” for the duration. Unfortunately, this is not what the client gets, due to serious problems with employee turnover at the firm they have hired.
Suddenly, every time an attorney or paralegal quits the job, the client’s case is shuttled off to a new attorney or paralegal in the office that the client has never met. The new attorney is not familiar with the case, and has no relationship with the client. The client becomes rightfully frustrated, but cannot get adequate assurance from the law firm’s management that his case will be handled competently. Sometimes, the client cannot even get a return telephone call from the “senior partner.”
The problems of employee turnover and lack of professional communication derive from the same source. According to a recent study, the number one reason competent employees leave their jobs is bad management. Similarly, lowered customer or client satisfaction levels result from poor management. The employees of a business are limited by the shortcomings of their managers. Bad management is reflected in bad employee attitudes, poor customer service and ultimately, high rates of turnover.
Unfortunately, the victims of turnover are the clients whose cases are never handled satisfactorily, even if they eventually are resolved. The only way to prevent this from happening to you is to avoid the problem in the first place. When seeking legal representation, ask the attorney you consult with which attorney and paralegal in the firm will handle your case, and how long those employees have been with the firm. Spend the time to consult with other attorneys before making a decision to hire. Remember, a track record of employee turnover is a sure sign of bad management and poor leadership, which will result in problems for you and your case.