Launching an Immigration Practice

Just like all those grueling hours it took for you to prepare for the bar exam, starting a new law practice takes time, preparation, and commitment. Launch your practice the right way with this interactive e-guide. Free for members on AGORA.


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Welcome to AILA!

You've taken the first step to GET STARTED in your immigration law career by joining AILA. Now, let us help you find answers to new members' most frequently asked questions. Below you will find the answers to the following questions:

How can I find a mentor?

Is there a seminar on the basics of immigration law?

What books should I get if I'm just starting out in immigration law?

What are my ethical obligations?

What do I need to know to run my own immigration practice?

How can AILA's website assist me as I practice immigration law?

Question: How can I find a mentor?
Answer:: You can access the Mentor Directory through your myAILA account (top bar) or via the left bar on InfoNet's homepage (Home > Chapters & Communities > Mentoring).

The Mentor Directory hosts over 20 categories with many more subcategories - from adjustment of status to religious workers and from labor certification to the newly added survivors' issues. To find a mentor with knowledge, expertise and the ability to help answer your question, select the general topic from the parent category and then the specific type from the dropdown menu. The search will yield mentors who match your criteria.

Question: Is there a seminar on the basics of immigration law?
Answer:: AILA offers the ABCs of Immigration Law seminar recordings, which include a general overview of immigration law, employment-based nonimmigrant visas, employment-based immigrant visas, family-based immigrant visas, and naturalization. The recording of our 2012 Fundamentals of Immigration Law Conference is also a great place to start. We also offer both live seminars and recordings on a myriad of topics and issues that affect your immigration practice. For a list of upcoming events, visit the Upcoming Live Event page on Agora.

Question: What books should I get if I'm just starting out in immigration law?
Answer:: For those just starting out in the field of immigration law, AILA recommends the following publications to get your library started:

The INA and CFR -These two primary sources form the foundations of immigration law. Every immigration attorney must have access to these two sources.

Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook - Considered to be the bible of immigration law, Kurzban's Sourcebook provides expert analyses of U.S. immigration law with extensive tables of authority to make it easy to find answers to your questions.

Essentials of Immigration Law - A comprehensive overview of the entire area of immigration. An excellent read for lawyers new to immigration law, law students, and experienced immigration attorneys who need to brush up on a new area.

AILA's Immigration Practice Toolbox - A CD collection of general practice documents such as representation agreements, checklists, and correspondence. Each sample includes tips for its use and can be tailored to meet the needs of your clients.

Forms & Fundamentals - Tips and advice for completing the most common immigration forms including DS-156, I-129, G-28, I-400, I-485, ETA-9089, and more.

AILALink - Your online immigration law library. AILALink provides fully-searchable access to the most important immigration resources such as the INA, CFR, FAM, AILA publications (including Kurzban's Sourcebook), and more.

Question: What are my ethical obligations?
Answer:: Immigration law adheres to the ethical rules of conduct of both the federal rules and the state bar rules. The federal rules are governed by the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) which first implemented Professional Conduct Rules for Immigration Practitioners in 2000, with major changes made to those rules in 2008. Likewise, almost every state has adopted their version of the American Bar Association's (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Understanding and balancing both sets of rules is not always easy. As part of your AILA membership, you have access to valuable resources that guide you through the intricacies of ethical responsibility. AILA has an assortment of scholarly articles, informative podcasts, and a state-by-state resource library on ethics and professionalism that raises awareness and Answer:s difficult questions about ethically practicing immigration law.

Question: What do I need to know to run my own immigration practice?
Answer:: The practice of law is a profession, but your law practice is a business. Whether you seek assistance with managing your work flow, obtaining new clients, dealing with staff, enhancing finances, or incorporating technology, The Practice & Professionalism Center's (PPC) resources can help you achieve even greater success.

Question: How can AILA's website assist me as I practice immigration law?
Answer:: Widely rated as AILA's number one benefit, (InfoNet) ( offers a wealth of members-only information. It is AILA's constantly updated portal for developments in immigration law, library of past developments and practice management tools, and link to a vast network of colleagues. If you have not logged in to (InfoNet), do so today and plug in to a wealth of knowledge that will help you succeed.

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