Ethical Issues in Practicing Immigration Law

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1 Ethical Issues in Practicing Immigration Law Barbara Fishleder, OSB Professional Liability Fund Amber Hollister, Oregon State Bar Peter Jarvis, Holland & Knight

2 Hypothetical No. 1 Dan A. Dilemma, an immigration lawyer who practices in Bend and is licensed in Washington, meets with client Sam Stickyfingers, who is seeking to adjust his status based on his marriage to an LPR. During the initial interview, Sam mentions that he is facing misdemeanor theft charges in Deschutes County Circuit Court, but he plans to plead guilty the next day and be sentenced to time served. Can Dan advise Sam that pleading guilty to the theft charges could bar him from adjusting his status? What should Dan do?

3 Hypothetical No. 1 cont. After Dan advises Sam of the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime of moral turpitude, Sam asks him whether he should try to get the charges dismissed, since the alleged crime happened over two years before he was charged. Dan thinks the statue of limitations may have passed on the misdemeanor theft charge. What should Dan do? Can Dan give Sam advice on filing a motion to dismiss?

4 Hypothetical No. 2 Brad Boundary, an immigration lawyer and member of the Oregon bar, works primarily out of a home office in Vancouver, Washington, but occasionally uses a Portland office to meet with clients. His Portland office is listed on his firm letterhead. Is Brad required to have OSB Professional Liability Fund (PLF) malpractice insurance?

5 Hypothetical No. 2 cont. Brad decides to close his Portland office. He continues to work primarily at home, but rents an office to meet clients at a friend s firm in downtown Vancouver. Brad changes his letterhead to reflect the Vancouver address. Sometimes he travels to Portland to eat lunch with clients, meet with USCIS, or appear at immigration court. Is Brad required to have PLF insurance? Is Brad eligible to purchase PLF insurance?

6 Hypothetical No. 3 Hannah Hometown is an immigration lawyer and a member of the California bar. She has an office in downtown Portland. Is Hannah required to have PLF insurance? Is she eligible to purchase PLF insurance? Can Hannah open a bankruptcy practice on the side?

7 (a) (b) (c) (d) Hypothetical No. 4 Vera Velasquez, a partner at Velasquez & Alexander, meets Husband and Wife for an intake interview. Husband, a USC, wants to petition to adjust Wife s status. During the intake, Vera learns that Wife entered without inspection. Husband mentions that he has an Assault IV charge pending (Wife is victim). Husband admits he gets angry when he drinks, but he has been going to AA. Husband says he ll do whatever it takes to help Wife get legal status. What should Vera do? Refer Husband & Wife to new attorneys and do not explain why. Refer Husband & Wife to new attorneys and explain to both Wife may be eligible to self-petition under VAWA or obtain a U Visa. Refer Wife to her partner Abe Alexander, screen herself from the case, and refer Husband to a new attorney. Refer Husband to another firm but continue representing Wife with Husband s informed consent.

8 Hypothetical No. 5 Attorney Charlie Carr is assisting Bernie, a foreign national, and his wife Bella, a USC, to file a petition to adjust Bernie s status and obtain a green card. Because of Bella s modest income, Charlie instructs Bernie and Bella that Bernie will need an additional Affidavit of Support. Bernie contacts his cousin Max and asks him to be his joint sponsor. Charlie previously represented Max on an immigration matter. Charlie answers Max s questions about the Affidavit and explains how Max will legally responsible for supporting Bernie. The day before Charlie mails the entire packet to USCIS, Bella calls and says that she expects to be laid off in six months. Who is Charlie s client? What can Charlie tell Max? Can he continue representing his client(s)?

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