Customer Lifetime Value in Immigration Law: How Much is a Client Worth?

It’s not uncommon for immigration cases to start as one type and turn into another over time. As an immigration lawyer, this is good since it means that an approval for your client today doesn’t mean you’re done working with that client...
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It’s not uncommon for immigration cases to start as one type and turn into another over time. As an immigration lawyer, this is good since it means that an approval for your client today doesn’t mean you’re done working with that client tomorrow - you may have more opportunities to do work for them in the future as they may become eligible for other immigration benefits. They may also have dependents or immediate family who need immigration legal services as well.

Given that there is often potential for a long-term relationship that may lead to multiple immigration filings or referrals, you can think of your clients in terms of all the possible statuses they are eligible for and other clients they may possibly bring in.

This concept is called the customers “lifetime value” (CLV, or LTV) - the value that a particular customer can bring to you and your immigration law firm over their “lifetime” working with you. This is a common business concept used in many other industries, and it’s one that can help you put a dollar value on client engagements and make better-informed decisions.

This article explores the idea behind CLV, what it means, and how it impacts immigration lawyers. Let’s jump in.

What’s a Customer’s Lifetime Value?

The CLV is a metric that can be used to measure the value of a client over the entire lifespan of their customer relationship with your firm, either through a case you’ve completed or will complete in the future. A customer’s lifetime value is calculated by looking at how much they will bring to the firm in business versus how much you have to spend to acquire them.

In some areas of immigration law, a client may not be eligible to file for a new status until years later. So, how can we practically look at the lifetime value of an immigration law client when that lifetime value is not apparent until much later down the road?

Past immigration clients can still mean future business

Clients you’ve helped in the past can be a source of future business - generally, there are two ways in which this can happen:

  • Past clients may be eligible for a new status or extension of their current status. For example, a conditional permanent resident who acquired their status through marriage will need to file for removal of conditions. Later, when the permanent resident becomes eligible to become a US citizen or needs to renew their green card, you can be there to help. Each of these steps is a new source of revenue you can gain from that client.
  • Past clients may refer you to others. Depending on your type of immigration practice, a referral could lead to you being contacted by a former client’s family member who is looking to move to the US. If a former client refers you to a potential corporate client, the potential client company may need to apply for work visas for multiple employees and more.

It may not be possible to consider all the future work a particular client can bring, especially in the beginning, but over time, considering the potential number of cases that may come down the pipeline from one client, or the number of clients they could potentially refer, it becomes easier to estimate the CLV of a given client.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Examples of the LTV of an immigration law client

Depending on the type of immigration law you practice, CLV may vary. Here are some examples, but of course, this is not an exhaustive list - it’s merely illustrative. There are endless examples, including immigration benefit filings, administrative processing, and court.

  • In marriage-based cases, CLV may be determined by the end result of their initial filing (e.g. K-1 visa to green card to eventual citizenship), and whether they may eventually become eligible to file for dependents or other family members.
  • In business immigration, if you handled an H-1B for someone a few years ago, for example, you should have a follow up sequence to reach out to them to file their extension, eventually discuss permanent residency with the employer. Several years later, you can reach out to the beneficiary to discuss applying for citizenship. By the way, setting up an email sequence to send automatically reminding your client of upcoming extensions or further filings and the steps they need to take is a simple way to reactivate the relationship.
  • For more limited case types like DACA, EAD applications, etc., it may be tempting to think that the LTV of a client is limited to that one application, but don’t forget about renewals! Certain immigration statuses are renewable indefinitely, so you can follow up with these clients when they’re eligible to review their status, and send alerts when new laws or regulations are enacted that open new options for, e.g., a new path to residency, come up.

It’s important to consider CLV along with other business concepts when you’re putting together your immigration law firm growth and marketing strategy. Check out our Top 20 Business Terms for Immigration Lawyers to learn about and see examples of other important business terms and concepts for immigration lawyers!

Be ready to take action on your follow ups with Docketwise

As you start to look more strategically at existing and past clients from a business standpoint, let Docketwise support the rest of your practice. With our CRM, full library of immigration forms, easy-to-use client questionnaires and industry-leading API integrations, Docketwise helps you stay up to date on all your immigration cases, communicate easily with your clients, and otherwise build and manage your immigration law firm.

If you want to learn more about Docketwise, schedule a demo at the link below, or sign up for our Immigration Briefings newsletter for daily and weekly immigration updates!

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Saja Raoof, Founder and Principal
Saja Raoof, Inc. Law Corporation
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Shahzad R, Khan Legal, PLLC
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Sandy Yeung - Yeung Law Office, LLC
Anna Ernest, Managing Attorney
Ernest Law Group, PLC
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Mohammed Ali Syed, Founder and Principal
Mohammed Ali Syed, Founder and Principal
Syed Law Firm, PLLC
“Hands down the best solution for a busy immigration practice. The interface is very user friendly and intuitive. There are lots of cool features that make handling a large volume of cases and ensuring accuracy a lot easier. The customer service is phenomenal.”
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