As the war for talent rages on, more and more employers are looking abroad to find skilled workers to fill job openings. As a result, employment-based immigration lawyers have been in high demand, and new lawyers are entering the space to help meet that demand. We recently wrote about how to build a successful family-based immigration law firm, so with this article, let’s dig into the fundamentals of how to run a successful employment-based immigration law firm.
This blog post is based on a webinar we recently recorded on this topic with Ron Matten and Sameer Khedekar. Matten is an immigration lawyer who started his career as a mechanical engineer, went on to practice immigration law at several large firms, and recently launched a boutique employment-based immigration law firm — Matten Law — in Los Angeles. Khedekar was a partner at a leading San Francisco-based immigration law firm, and is now Founder and Managing Attorney of Banyan, an immigration law firm that helps both companies and employees through the US immigration process.
So let’s dive into the basics of acquiring both individual and corporate clients for an employment-based immigration law firm.
Before you strategize how to get clients, decide what kind of clients you want to work with. Think about it as a niche within a niche: within employment-based immigration law, there are multiple specializations you could take, so stick to what’s aligned with your values, your goals, and your preferences.
Your niche within business immigration lies at the intersection of:
Once you’ve identified your niche, turn your attention to finding clients within that niche. Acquiring business immigration clients is not unlike acquiring clients in other areas of immigration law — trust and building relationships through professional networking are crucial. If you’re stepping away from a bigger firm, and if you don’t have any clients coming with you, you may be able to work with that law firm down the line via referral or as co-counsel. This is an example of why it’s important to keep your professional relationships in good standing — don’t burn bridges!
If you want to work in a high-volume environment, invest time in getting to know the decision makers within companies that need high volume immigration services. Joining industry-based professional organizations, HR associations or other business groups can open opportunities for speaking engagements and networking events which, in turn, can lead to client introductions.
Khedekar gauges that acquiring clients in the employment-based immigration space is about “90% relationship-based”, and a lot of it rides on the perception your clients have about the quality of your work. Khedekar admits, “it will be rocky at first,” but it’s all about building momentum, one client at a time.
Finally, don’t underestimate your clients’ networks and the potential for referrals there as well. For example, start-up founders need to build strong professional networks by necessity, and are happy to refer your services to others.
If you’re pursuing corporate, high-volume clients, it’s important that you think about whether and how your law firm can support those clients. As you read above, working with high volume clients circles back to trust: is the client confident that choosing you as a lawyer is the right decision? Do they trust that you’ll be able to handle their complexity and volume?
The answers to these questions often hinge on your law firm’s technological capabilities.
Your law firm’s tech has to meet the standards of your corporate clients’ or prospects’ HR departments, often because in-house HR departments typically have their own complex talent acquisition and HR systems, and so they want an immigration law firm that’s on their level. In some cases, it’s because they’re looking for integrations. In other cases, they want to know that you have the systems and processes to dependably handle their volume.
Let’s talk about two kinds of systems that you may want to have tech solutions for to satisfy higher volume clients.
Immigration case management software should be the cornerstone of your tech tool lineup. The platform you use needs to provide as much visibility as possible to your corporate clients, as well as a modern-feeling experience. Ideally, this should be a system that lets applicants visually track their case status, upload documents easily, and determine what tasks need to be done for each case. Other valuable functionality could include the ability for the client’s HR manager to run reports on their client portal and sign documents electronically.
One of the most practical (and important) functions of a case management system is to help you track data across your law firm, which, incidentally, can help you generate more business. For example, the best case management platforms can show you when a client’s status is expiring and will prompt you to reach out to them about initiating an extension of status application.
Business immigration cases often have extended timelines, involve multiple filings, and thus plenty of fees. Being able to track those small details is very important to higher volume clients, because they often don’t have the time or bandwidth to track all such complicated invoicing themselves and rely on their outside immigration counsel to handle it.
There may also be some differences in how you handle invoicing with higher volume clients as opposed to smaller individual clients. For example, you might have to advance government filing fees for your clients so that the filing of applications and petitions are not delayed by waiting for the client to cut checks for these fees. You may have to pay the filing fees yourself and then bill your client.
Higher volume clients may also expect flexible invoicing. Many high volume immigration clients may want invoices that are compatible with their systems, or be given longer timelines to settle invoices, which means you may not get paid right away. You’ll need to balance how long it will take to get paid with the value the client brings to your firm.
Supporting employment-based individual and corporate immigration clients in achieving their objectives is what you do, but that’s not all you have to do. Running a successful employment-based immigration law firm requires strategies that will save you time and money, reduce confusing processes and empower you and your team to do what they do best.
Docketwise has a full suite of tools for employment-based immigration law firms, including all required immigration forms, a robust immigration case management platform, and a client relationship management interface to manage your corporate clients, big or small. Docketwise can help you streamline and digitize your practice so that you can spend more of your time building and supporting your clients, marketing your firm, and keeping up with all the new work coming your way
From a full library of immigration forms to client questionnaires in multiple languages to an industry-leading set of API integrations, we help you stay up to date on all your cases, communicate easily with your clients, and otherwise build and manage your 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!