Getting your lawyer to work for you!

Whoever your lawyer is, you must always know what s/he is doing and how to get in touch with him or her. Insist s/he explains all the legal aspects of your case and what stage it has reached. If you are under threat of deportation it is vital that you understand what case the Home Office is making against you, what your lawyer is doing to stop your deportation, and how to reach your lawyer at all times.

Don’t be deterred by the lawyer’s arrogant manner – lawyers are paid to represent their clients, but often behave as if we should be grateful for any attention we get, especially if we are poor.

If you don’t speak English well enough to understand what they say, insist they provide translation service at every appointment. If you are unhappy with translation service (please document and notify someone immediately).

If your removal is imminent, getting lawyers to act quickly is essential. You or your supporters should check every day (or several times a day) what your lawyer is doing.

Ask for your lawyer’s supervisor if they are being unresponsive or not calling you back. Tell the supervisor it’s an emergency. Tell them you have not been able to speak to the lawyer and insist that they instruct someone to deal with the case. Follow up your call with a fax or email addressed to the lawyer, the supervisor or the head of the firm (ask the receptionist for the names), depending on whom you have spoken with. We have found that in itself can prompt lawyers into action as they don’t like there to be written record of their refusal to respond.

Don’t be discouraged if the lawyer says there’s nothing else that can be done: few are informed or persistent as the circumstances often demand. Insist they get a second opinion from a barrister. By being determined or getting someone determined to act for you, you may win your lawyers respect and persuade s/he to do more than usual.