HOW TO REPORT A BAD IMMIGRATION LAWYER

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How do a Report a Bad Immigration lawyer?

How to Report

File a complaint in the state bar where Lawyer is licensed. His license to practice can be revoked.

References:

http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=26749 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/06/AR2007010601214.html

How and Where to File Complaints Against Notarios and Immigration Consultants ?

State wise listing

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08100662 (posted Oct. 6, 2008)"

Alabama Attorney General Information Attorney General: Troy King (R) Phone: (334) 242-7300 Mailing Address: State House 11 S. Union Street Montgomery, AL 36130-0152 Website: http://www.ago.state.al.us

Where to File a Complaint:

Consumer Affairs Section of the Office of Attorney General 11 S. Union Street Montgomery, AL 36130-0152

How to File a Complaint

File your complaint online

In order for a complaint file to be opened in the Attorney General’s Office, the consumer must first complete an official Complaint Form or an online Complaint Form. The consumer may also send a description of the complaint by letter, and include copies of all correspondence, receipts, etc., to the Consumer Affairs Section, Office of the Attorney General at the address listed above.

Other Important Information:

Telephone: (334) 242-7334 or toll-free in Alabama (800) 392-5658 Fax: (334) 242-2433

Copies of all of your correspondence with this office may be forwarded to the business that is the subject of your complaint, as well as to other governmental agencies. They do appreciate the sensitive nature of the identifying information in your consumer complaint, and it is their policy to remove your personal identifying information when releasing records pursuant to public records requests. Please be aware, however, they cannot guarantee that they will not be ordered by a court or other lawful authority to release your complaint information with your personal identifying information on it.

Arizona Attorney General Information Attorney General: Terry Goddard (D) Phone: (602) 542-4266 Mailing Address: 1275 W. Washington Street Phoenix, AZ 85007-2926 E-mail: aginfo@azag.gov Website: http://www.azag.gov

Where to File a Complaint:

Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Information and Complaints 1275 W. Washington Phoenix, Arizona 85007-2926 (602) 542-5763 (800) 352-8431 (outside the Phoenix metro area) consumerinfo@azag.gov or Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Information and Complaints 400 W. Congress South Building, Suite 315 Tucson, Arizona 85701-1367 (520) 628-6504 (800) 352-8431 (outside the Tucson metro area) consumerinfo@azag.gov

How to File a Complaint:

File your complaint online.

Or you can download the complaint form, and mail the completed form to either the Phoenix or Tucson office at the above address.

Arkansas Attorney General Information Attorney General: Dustin McDaniel (D) Phone: (501) 682-2341 Mailing Address: Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division 200 Tower Building 323 Center Street Little Rock, AR 72201-2610 E-mail: consumer@ag.state.ar.us Website: http://www.ag.state.ar.us Where to File a Complaint: Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division 200 Tower Building 323 Center Street Little Rock, AR 72201-2610 (501) 682-2341 1-800-482-8982 (Statewide) (501) 682-8118 (Fax)

How to File a Complaint:

File your complaint [online http://ag.arkansas.gov/complaints_consumer_online.html].

Or download the complaint form and mail the completed form to the address above.

Download the form

Other Important Information:

As of 3/11/08, there was one bilingual (Spanish) speaker on staff, Marie Peters, if needed. The Consumer Protection Division has no criminal enforcement power, so allegations of criminal wrongdoing go to the local prosecuting attorney.

Also see AG Opinion no. 2006-132 on Unathorized Practice of Law date http://ag.arkansas.gov/opinions/docs/2006-132.html

California Attorney General Information Attorney General: Edmund G. Brown Jr. (D) Phone: (501) 682-2341 Mailing Address: Attorney General’s Office

California Department of Justice Attn: Public Inquiry Unit P.O. Box 944255 Sacramento, CA 94244-2550 E-mail: http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=PL (links to online submission form) Website: http://ag.ca.gov Where to File a Complaint: Attorney General’s Office California Department of Justice Attn: Public Inquiry Unit P.O. Box 944255 Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

How to File a Complaint: File your complaint online at: http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=CL (800) 953-525 (toll free in California) (916) 322-3360 Other Important Information: The Office of Immigrant Assistance also has numerous publications for immigrants, including warnings about immigration consultants, which can be found at: http://ag.ca.gov/immigrant/publications.php There is also an entire web page dedicated to the issue of immigration consultants at: http://ag.ca.gov/consumers/general/immigration_consultants.php Office of Immigrant Assistance (888) 587-0557

Colorado Attorney General Information Attorney General: John W. Suthers (R) Phone: (303) 866-4500 (800) 222-4444 Fax: (303) 866-4916 Mailing Address: 1525 Sherman Street 7th Floor Denver, CO 80203 E-mail: stop.fraud@state.co.us Website: http://www.ago.state.co.us/index.cfm.html

Where to File a Complaint:

Consumer Protection Section 1525 Sherman Street 5th Floor Denver, CO 80203

How to File a Complaint:

Download the complaint form and mail the completed form to the address above. Download the form

The Attorney General’s office does not have the capability of accepting online submissions at this time.

Other Important Information:

Consumer Complaint Line: in Denver and Out of State: (303) 866-5189 Consumer Complaint Line: Outside of Denver but in Colorado: (800) 222-4444 Consumer Protection: stop.fraud@state.co.us Complaints submitted to the Attorney General’s office are first handled by the local Better Business Bureau in the service area where the business is located before the Attorney General’s office steps in.


Connecticut Attorney General Information Attorney General: Richard Blumenthal (D) Phone: (860) 808-5318 Mailing Address: Office of the Attorney General 55 Elm Street Hartford, CT 06141-0120 E-mail: attorney.general@po.state.ct.us Website: http://www.ct.gov/ag/site/default.asp Where to File a Complaint: Department of Consumer Protection 165 Capitol Avenue Hartford, CT 06106

How to File a Complaint:

Download the complaint form and mail the completed form to the address above. Download the [form http://www.ct.gov/dcp/lib/dcp/pdf/forms/consumer_statementcpfr-2_rev_8-06_edited1106.pdf]

Mail the completed form to the address above, or you may also drop your complaint form off in person at the Capitol Avenue office in Hartford.


How and Where to File Complaints Against Notarios and Immigration Consultants: AILA Guide

Link to AILA Guide

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08100662 (posted Oct. 6, 2008)"

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is pleased to publish this state-by-state guide to assist injured consumers with information to take legal action against immigration consultants and “notarios” who prey on America’s immigrant community. AILA has written and published this guide because we are fed-up seeing the damage these consultants do to immigrant lives and families. We are saddened by the heart-wrenching stories we hear when immigrants come to us after the notario or consultant has completely damaged any opportunity the immigrant had to stay in this country and potentially become a citizen. We want to help. Our professional lives are dedicated to it.

Many noncitizens who would otherwise qualify for immigration benefits discover they will never be successful because an immigration “consultant” destroyed their dreams. Don’t let this happen to you. While many legitimate community and religious organizations provide immigration-related services, non-lawyers who advertise as legal “consultants” or “notarios” are not authorized or qualified to help with immigration matters.

It is against the law for “public notaries” or even foreign lawyers who are not licensed in the United States to provide immigration advice—even “just” filling out forms is something that only a licensed, properly trained lawyer or accredited representative should do. Only a U.S. licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist with your immigration case. Unlike consultants, lawyers have completed extensive education and training before being licensed to represent clients. You can verify whether a lawyer is in good standing and licensed to help you by contacting your state bar association. Lawyers are also required to maintain high ethical standards—and if they don’t, you can contact your local bar association for action. When a consultant promises to help—but doesn’t deliver—the damage may not be fixable, and there may be no one to turn to.

Have You Been Harmed By a Consultant or Notario?

By promising too much—and knowing too little—unauthorized consultants often shatter immigrants’ dreams. They will promise low-cost, quick results, but often do not know the law. Even if they actually do the work and file papers, they may do it wrong and cause permanent harm. Furthermore, many are little better than scam artists, taking their client’s trust—and money—and never having to answer for the results. If you believe you are a victim of one of these consultants, then this guide will assist you in finding help in your state. You can ask the government to take action against the consultant who harmed you. Your complaint can make a difference. Using This Guide This guide contains information, names, telephone numbers and addresses to help consumers take action against predators who have harmed them and their immigration dreams.

Why is AILA Providing This Guide?

Because we are tired and fed-up seeing the damage these consultants do to immigrant lives and families. We are saddened by the heart-wrenching stories we hear when immigrants come to us after the notario or consultant has completely damaged any opportunity the immigrant had to stay in this country and potentially become a citizen. We want to help. Our professional lives are dedicated to it. Source: AILA

Complaints Rise Against Immigration Lawyers

Washingtonpost Article

Complaints Rise Against Immigration Lawyers Complex Statutes, Criminal Schemes Heighten Concerns

Bolivian immigrants Rene and Fanny Saavedra of Gaithersburg with son Alexis. Rene Saavedra won permanent U.S. residency in 2000, but his wife was mistakenly told by their attorney that she would have to wait for her green card. (By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)

By Henri E. Cauvin Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, January 7, 2007; Page C01 Complaints against immigration lawyers working in and around the nation's capital are rising, say officials who investigate allegations of attorney misconduct.

Last year, the D.C. Office of Bar Counsel received 59 complaints about immigration lawyers, up from 49 in 2005 -- when, for the first time, immigration law drew more complaints than any other specialized practice area.

The bar counsel office is finalizing 2006 totals for other categories, but complaints about immigration law appear likely to rank near the top again.

Such a distinction is no small feat in a city flush with lawyers and no small worry in a region long established as a destination for immigrants, particularly those from Africa and Latin America.

"There are a lot of unhappy immigrant clients out there, and some of them have very good reason to be unhappy," said D.C. Deputy Bar Counsel Elizabeth A. Herman, who has handled immigration complaints for more than a decade.

From the simply confused to the unquestionably criminal, bad lawyers have become a concern for the immigration bar and for the nation's immigration tribunals.

Federal sanctions have been rising in recent years. Established in 2000, the bar counsel at the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Justice Department branch that oversees U.S. immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals, disciplined 47 immigration lawyers last year and 54 the previous year -- up from 22 in 2000.

"You have a very vulnerable population," said Jennifer Barnes, who has been the bar counsel for the immigration review office since the position was created. Many immigrants, she said, don't speak English, and few understand the statutes and regulations that are second perhaps only to the tax code in complexity. "And you have attorneys out there looking to take advantage of that vulnerability," she said.

Perhaps the most notorious Washington area immigration hustler in recent history is Arlington lawyer Samuel G. Kooritzky, who was imprisoned in 2003 after he was convicted of engaging in a massive fraud. Kooritzky's firm, Capital Law Centers, specialized in applying for state labor certifications, which businesses use when they cannot find a U.S. citizen for a particular job. An immigrant can then use a certification to apply to the federal government for a green card.

Kooritzky's firm submitted thousands of fake applications for labor certifications without telling the businesses they were being used. He charged immigrants $8,000 to $20,000 for the service and raked in millions before the fraud was discovered. Kooritzky received a 10-year sentence.

The breadth of Kooritzky's criminal enterprise is hard to match, but there are some contenders. In November, a few were in court in the District.

A federal judge sent a Northwest Washington lawyer, Mohamed Alamgir, to prison for more than three years. From 1996 to 2003, Alamgir filed hundreds of false labor and immigration forms as part of a scheme to obtain permanent residency for immigrants by claiming they had jobs awaiting them in the United States, prosecutors said.

But there were no jobs. In some cases, Alamgir paid employers who agreed to participate in the scheme. In others, he put up friends or relatives as employers. And in still others, he mingled fake applications with legitimate ones. In all, the fraud took in more than $2 million.

A D.C. Superior Court judge jailed another lawyer, Richard A. James, who, despite having been disbarred, continued to practice immigration law. Given a suspended sentence in 2002 for flouting his disbarment in 2000, James was ordered not to practice. But he did, working out of an office on I Street NW where one of his specialties was helping foreign physicians immigrate to the United States. He's serving an eight-month sentence for contempt.

But most of the wrongdoing that keeps bar counsels busy does not rise to the criminal level.

It is the missed deadline, the unreturned phone call, the obviously overlooked opportunity that frustrate many eager immigrants and prompt a large share of the complaints. Such lapses might be less grievous in other legal arenas, but immigration law is stringent, and immigration tribunals are exacting in their application of it, say lawyers who practice before them.

That is why bar counsel offices such as the District's have made immigration law a priority. "The consequences for missing a deadline are draconian," Herman said. "In civil court, if you miss a deadline, you just file a motion for more time. In immigration court, you can't do that and expect a good result."

Some aggrieved immigrants file complaints. Some have no choice but to file in order to ask an immigration judge to reopen a case. But many never do, being unaware of their rights or reluctant to exercise them for fear of further complicating their situation, advocates for immigrants say.

Complaints can take months or years to investigate and resolve. Documents must be gathered, transcripts of proceedings might have to be ordered and lawyers must be given a chance to respond.

When D.C. bar counsel Wallace E. "Gene" Shipp Jr. elects to seek a sanction, his lawyers have to try the case before a Board of Professional Responsibility hearing committee, then argue it before the board, which ultimately makes a recommendation to the District's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

In 2005, for example, the court upheld a reprimand for a lawyer who had failed to file an appeal that his client had requested after the client was denied asylum and then neglected to tell his client that the appeal had not been filed; the lawyer was in a dispute with the client over how much of a $625 fee had to be paid up front.

Bad lawyering carried consequences for Fanny Saavedra and her family, they said. Born in Bolivia, Saavedra has been in the United States illegally for more than a decade, since she overstayed a tourist visa, was arrested in a workplace raid and ordered deported.

After her husband, Rene, also of Bolivia, won permanent residency in 2000, Fanny should have been right behind him in line for a green card, said her current attorney, the Rev. David Brooks. But their attorney at the time said that Fanny could not piggyback on Rene's residency and would need to wait until he became a citizen.

The lawyer was wrong, Brooks said. But not until last year, as Rene was preparing to become a citizen, did they learn that they didn't have to wait.

The couple's three children -- ages 3, 7 and 9 -- were born in the United States and are citizens, and Fanny Saavedra's teenage daughter, born in Bolivia, was able to gain permanent residency in 2002 as Rene Saavedra's stepchild.

In her own Gaithersburg home, only Fanny Saavedra is in the country illegally, haunted by the memory of the raid that led to her deportation order. Even the news that her case has been reopened and will be heard by an immigration judge this month has done little to quell her anxiety.

"It's like trauma for me," the 40-year-old housekeeper said. "I'm afraid, really afraid. I don't want to leave my kids."

But the idea of filing a grievance seemed like asking for more trouble when the family was focused on legalizing Fanny Saavedra's status. "We didn't make a complaint, because we didn't want any more legal problems with our situation," Rene Saavedra said.

In a field dominated by solo practitioners and firms of two to three lawyers, even conscientious ones can find it hard to keep up with changes in the law and the strict demands of immigration courts.

"A lot of people get into this practice and they mean well, and they get overwhelmed -- they get totally overwhelmed," said Michael Maggio, whose Dupont Circle firm, Maggio & Kattar, has one of the area's biggest immigration practices.

Last year, the American Immigration Lawyers Association created a practice and professionalism center to provide guidance for lawyers navigating immigration law, as more are entering the immigration field. The association has grown from fewer than 4,000 members in 1994 to more than 10,000. Only New York and Miami have more members than the Washington region, which has about 800.

When a lawyer's lapse costs an immigrant whatever opportunity he or she had, the aftermath can be heartbreaking.

"No matter what we do to show the lawyer did wrong, [the immigrant] may still be deported," Herman said, drawing on her experience with the D.C. bar counsel office. "It's more than frustrating. It's tragic in some cases. They may be separated from their children. They may be deported to a country they haven't lived in since they were an infant. Their whole lives are turned upside down."

Fanny Saavedra wakes up with such fears every day, despite her attorney's confidence that she'll be allowed to stay. "My husband, he always supports me," she said. "Whatever happens, we'll be together. If we go back, we're going to go back, all of us."

==Further info and discussions==
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