Hiring Contract Attorneys for High-Volume Employment-Based Immigration Work

Employment-based immigration law can be unpredictable. Sometimes cases require extremely long processing times, while other times there are hectic periods involving short-lived filing windows... What can you do in this situation? ....
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Employment-based immigration law can be unpredictable. Sometimes cases require extremely long processing times, while other times there are hectic periods involving short-lived filing windows. That means that you sometimes have to balance the demands of a short filing window for a high volume of specific cases that your law firm cannot reasonably accommodate with existing staff and resources. What can you do in this situation?

The simple answer is that you may want to consider getting help from a contract attorney.

This article dives into some instances where that might be the case, so whether you’re a law firm that encounters this situation or a lawyer who might be looking for extra work, this article is for you.

Some examples of when to consider temporary contract employment-based immigration attorneys

Here are just a few examples of instances when it might make sense for you and your firm to hire a contractor to help you with a temporary peak in employment-based cases.

During H1-B cap season

H-1B “cap season” is the months-long period during which employers submit registrations for potential H-1B beneficiaries applying for H-1B visas. During H-1B cap season, law firms not only help their clients complete H-1B registrations, which in itself requires at least some amount of information gathering and coordination, but also eventually prepare full H-1B petitions for those who were selected in the H-1B lottery (or in some cases prepare full H-1B petition even before the lottery). The point here is that during this time, the volume of work is very likely to significantly increase, and for law firms that don’t have available staff to reassign to H-1B cap cases, hiring contractors to help out during this period is a great solution. This way you can meet deadlines and expectations on your H-1B cap cases without ignoring your other work and falling behind.

When priority dates suddenly become current

In the same way you may have a high volume of H-1B cases during cap season, you may find yourself with a higher-than-usual volume of clients whose priority dates suddenly become current and who need your assistance filing their Form I-485 to adjust status. Plus, given that priority dates have been known to retrogress (go backward after moving forward), filing Adjustment of Status applications in a timely manner (i.e. before the end of the month and the following month’s visa bulletin is released) is crucial. In this instance, hiring a contract lawyer to help handle a temporary but drastic increase in I-485s that need to get out the door can be a great way to meet the deadline without burning out or making mistakes.

Sporting events and other temporary situations

There are other, less common examples of temporary situations where a high volume of immigration-based work is needed, such as when a sports team needs to suddenly bring an entire team of athletes and support staff into the US for a one-time event. In such a situation, the immigration law firm handling that team’s immigration work may want to bring on temporary help for those cases without necessarily hiring additional full-time staff.

Of course this list is by no means exhaustive and other similar situations exist, but hopefully this has been a helpful illustration of a few common scenarios when immigration law firms may need to hire contract workers to temporarily support a high volume of casework.

The next question is: who can you hire to help you with this type of work?

Ideal professionals to provide temporary support for employment-based cases on a contract basis

If you’re new to hiring a contract lawyer for employment-based immigration work, consider these three possible options:

  • New attorneys trying to get work to learn more about immigration law through practical experience. If your budget is limited, or the assistance you need doesn’t require deep experience and expertise, consider giving a fresh law school graduate some experience while easing your firm’s workload. If you hire new attorneys, their rates might not be as high as someone with more experience, so as long as you have someone to supervise and guide them, you can have an “army” or attorneys helping you keep up with a high volume of work while also gaining valuable work experience.
  • Mid-career immigration attorneys who choose to work on a project basis. Reaching out to a lawyer who is working in a limited capacity (for example, someone raising a child or caring for a loved one) to help you during this short period of time could be a great option, especially if you have experience working with them, or have seen their work before. For many attorneys, this kind of contract work helps them stay active and up to date on regulations and procedures even while they aren’t able to work full-time.
  • Immigration attorneys winding down their career who want to do some work but don’t want to work full time. Immigration lawyers who are wrapping up their professional careers and taking a smaller workload could be a great option to help you on a contract basis. With them you would have the benefit of their extensive experience, which can save you time in terms of training (you may even learn a thing or two!), while still getting the work done that you need to get done. This could also be a fantastic opportunity for an experienced attorney to mentor or coach attorneys with less experience at your firm, which would result in long-term benefits of an otherwise short-term employment relationship.

Finally, the last question that remains is - how can you find someone to help you on a short-term contract basis for high-volume employment-based immigration work?

Finding contract attorneys for high-volume employment-based immigration work

To find an attorney to help your firm on a contract basis with employment-based immigration work, we suggest starting with those you know, and from there, going outwards. Here are some examples of what you can do to find the right contractor.

  • Start with your personal network: Notify your network that you are open to or looking for part-time work. A post on your professional social media or an email blast to your professional contacts is sufficient, but make sure to give some details about the work you’re hiring for and clearly note how anyone interested can contact you for more details.
  • Bar association job boards: Both lawyers open to working on a contract basis, and the lawyers who may need them, post what they’re looking for in job boards. AILA, different state bar job boards, the Federal Bar Association, and the American Bar Association job board are some examples for you to use and explore.
  • Gig economy sites, like Upwork or Freelancer: This should be a last resort, as it is more difficult to verify experience and credentials on these sites. However, it’s still possible to post both your availability if you’re a lawyer looking for extra work or look there if you’re a law firm seeking help.

Hopefully this article has made the case for when, who and how to hire contract workers when your immigration law firm suddenly has to deal with a high volume of employment-based immigration work. The last step is to make sure you have the right software at the foundation of your firm! And that’s where Docketwise comes in.

Manage your immigration law firm with Docketwise

Our main goal at Docketwise is to help immigration lawyers do what they do best - focus on doing great work for their clients while knowing that the rest of their practice is streamlined, automated and digitized.

Docketwise can help you streamline and digitize your practice so that you can spend more of your time applying your legal knowledge to achieve the most positive outcome possible for your clients. Should you need to bring reinforcements during H-1B cap season or any other high-volume period of time, you can easily add your contract lawyer to your Docketwise account to collaborate with them, give them access to what they need, and remove them, as needed, when the work concludes. Docketwise makes document and information sharing seamless and helps you keep your clients’ information secure.

If you want to learn more about how Docketwise can help you streamline your practice — from client questionnaires to form-filling to case management and more — schedule a demo to talk to one of our team members.

And don’t forget to 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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Ernest Law Group, PLC
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Mohammed Ali Syed, Founder and Principal
Mohammed Ali Syed, Founder and Principal
Syed Law Firm, PLLC
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