In the United States, where non-citizens do not have the same rights as citizens, immigration law and the representation of non-citizens is a specialized area of litigation practice, the demand for which is unlikely to slow down in the near future. Immigration lawyers help foreign business people get work visas, process citizenship papers, work with refugees seeking political asylum and represent aliens facing deportation. Most immigration lawyers spend time in the U.S. Immigration Court and at the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) and, as a result, learn litigation skills very early. Immigration laws and regulations change frequently and immigration lawyers must keep up with legal research in order to advise their clients. They often have a great deal of responsibility at a very junior level.
Immigration lawyers tend to work in small firms and often charge set fees rather than hourly rates. Salaries vary by employer; those who work for corporate clients take home bigger paychecks than those who represent indigent refugees. Many lawyers do both kinds of work to keep their practice strong. Some immigration lawyers are solo practitioners who work with particular nationalities. It helps, therefore, to have strong foreign language skills and an understanding of other cultures. Litigators with a healthy immigration practice usually have a huge caseload; it's not uncommon to be managing 30 or 40 cases at once. Immigration is a slow process and one fraught with bureaucracy and red tape. Litigators who work in this field must be organized, able to multitask and have patience with the slow movement of government agencies. It's also especially important for immigration attorneys to have strong ethical standards; their clients are often vulnerable and impoverished individuals who, as non-citizens, cannot bring suit in American courts and might easily fall victim to unscrupulous attorneys.
Other fields of law in which civil litigators practice include antitrust, banking law, insurance litigation, international arbitration, regulatory law and tax law.
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