How you can help us, help you: Wise words from our star Administrative Assistants

Everyone gets stressed by having to go to a professional’s office. Doctors, lawyers, counselors all are places where people go when they are in crisis. Medical issues, psychological and relationship issues, and legal issues can have a debilitating effect on a person’s life. A question was posed, though, that which of these professions are the most stressful for the provider? The answer to that question may come by way of a very simple understanding.

Visiting a doctor’s office in pain, may allow for the prescription of medicines to help alleviate the pain. But, the person who came for treatment leaves with his or her pain when they leave. But, people who come to a lawyer’s office often leave their troubles with the lawyer and the lawyer’s assistants. They are able to return back to their lives, with some sense of calm that their legal problems are being dealt with.

Imagine an office full of files, each representing someone’s legal problems. Each demands attention, demands answers and demands assurances. We have always said that we, at Sharma-Crawford Attorney’s at Law and The Clinic have the most caring, diligent and loyal administrative assistants (AA) there are. They are as fearless as the attorneys. We sat down with them to ask them what they consider are top ways you can help in the resolution of your legal case.  Here are their top suggestions:

  1. Please provide your full name. This means all names. First, middle, last, second last, nickname, alias, etc. If we can’t find you in our system, it takes longer to get anything done.
  2. If you have a case for you and a spouse, pick one of you to call us, and then communicate with one another. You have one case; we have many so please pick a spokesperson for the family. We want to answer all your questions and make sure every case gets our full attention. This helps us balance both these issues.
  3. If necessary, take notes during your appointment. Immigration law is complex. Write the answers to your questions down because we understand that there is a lot of information given and it can be overwhelming. When you call and say “what did the lawyer tell me”, we don’t know where to start.
  4. Please know which attorney you are working with and the type of case you have. Sometimes it isn’t your lawyer’s assistant who picks up the phone, so if you say, “I have the man attorney”, that just narrows it down to 50%. If you call and say, “its about my case”, and we ask more questions, we really are trying to help.
  5. If you came in for a consultation but have not hired our office to do anything else, we are waiting on you to decide what you would like to do. If you are hiring our office, everyone must sign the representation agreement before you are considered a client. Till then, you are responsible for your case and must make sure all deadlines are met.
  6. We know you are often panicked and overwhelmed when you call. But, we are not going to be able to give you legal advice. The attorneys will also not give you advice without talking to you directly and looking at all of your documents. So, please understand when we stop you from explaining your entire case. You’ll have to do it all over again when you come for your appointment, so it is best to just tell the attorneys. If you need an appointment, we can totally help you with that.
  7. We know you are anxious about your case. We want to make sure we are fully focused on your case when we are working on something. Our office will always send you client copies of everything for your records. If you would like us to let you know when something specific is done, let us know. We promise to let you as soon as we are done with it.
  8. Sometimes we have to leave you a voice message when we call you. Could we ask you to please check it before you call us? It may either have the answers you need or the name of the person who called you. This helps us make sure you get to the right person, right away.  
  9. We all want to make sure that every visit to our office is pleasant and quick. Please bring all your documents when you come in for a consultation. We know how frustrating it can be when appointments have to be rescheduled because of missing documents, but we don’t want to take any chances.  We think your case should not be based on just a guess.
  10. Did you know that the USCIS Website provided updates on your case? It is even possible to sign up for instant notifications that allow you to know what occurred, even before we know!
  11. We understand that when you move, your lawyer’s office is the last thing on your mind. But, we need to know when you change contact information. It is really important because it allows us to keep you updated on your case without delay. It also helps us to let the Court and USCIS know where you are, so you don’t miss anything.
  12. Our office works really hard to make sure you always understand what is being done on your case. But it can get confusing because some of the processes are really long. If you are confused or just forgot what needed to happen, just come in and talk to the attorneys or us. We always say in our office “knowledge is power”.
  13. We know you are scared and your friends are trying to help, but your cases are not the same. It never happens like that. And while there is a lot of good information on the internet, there is also a LOT of bad information.
  14. We promise we will never tell you something that is not true, we only ask that you do the same for us.
  15. We know doing forms is no fun. It is like sitting at the airport waiting for your flight, but that flight is important, right? Really important. But you don’t want to wait all day and then get on the wrong plane, so please, before signing forms, check them all carefully for any changes or errors.
  16. Dealing with the federal government is frustrating. Trust us, we know. But we don’t know why dreamstime_xs_52767940they do what they do or exactly how long they are going to take to do it. If we knew that answer, it would make our jobs so much easier!
  17. Did you know our office has an app?  You can download it for free.  It has all kinds of cool and helpful links to help you stay informed.  You should try it!
  18. Speaking of, we also have a very active Facebook page.  We use our page to keep folks informed, share victories and stories and sometimes, include something just to make you laugh.  Laughter is great for stress. We love it when you make us laugh and we try to do the same.  Staying well is always something we strive to achieve and encourage. But, please understand if we don’t answer case specific questions on FB.  We don’t want to share your information with everyone, so just give us a call instead.
  19. Believe it or, while we love what we do, when we go home, we like to take a break from it.  It helps us stay balanced.  So, if you try and friend us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., we will probably not accept.  We are not trying to be mean, we just want to help us keep our work and home lives separate. Plus, do you really want us to see what all you have been doing?!
  20. Everyone in our office is passionate about the work we do and the people we help. We work hard and we play hard. But most of all, we’re glad you’re here.


How Immigration Became Hate Speech

This morning, two journalists were killed by a man who, reportedly, was angry about racial issues. In a moment, two young lives were cut short and a nation again reeled into stunned silence. But, this isn’t about gun laws or gun restrictions. That is left for another day. What this is about is the level of hate and hate speech that seems to be apparent these days. Honestly, it is heartbreaking.

Turn to any media outlet and what you hear is hate. Hate because of race, hate because of gender, hate because of sexual preference, hate because of religious beliefs and hate because of national origin. Hate has become the message no matter what the topic.

When tragedy strikes, communities rally, they rise in solidarity and give each other comfort. But then, it all goes back to being the same. Nothing changes. Hate speech continues to be spewed and the media continues to give it a stage. Are we not better than this?

As the focus of the nation shifts to the elections in 2016, candidates have taken to spreading hate not only for each other, but have also begun advocating a hatred toward one another. Divisive speech has become the norm. Why do we continue to allow this?

America is a unique place. It is great in its ability to stand as an example of people from everywhere living and thriving in harmony. But, this harmony is at risk. As hate speech gains traction, the fabric of America is at risk of being torn. Can we really allow this to happen?

Immigration has become the latest weapon of choice. Instead of celebrating our differences, the speech has become toxic, pitting one group of people against another. Those who are in leadership roles, or who want to be in leadership roles, have made it their calling to exploit the fears and insecurities of groups of people. But how is this leadership?

As the debate heats up over birthright citizenship and walls at the border, all that is gained is more divisive, hate speech. What are missing are real solutions to difficult, complex laws that often cause more heartache than people ever hear about or understand. Honest dialog that reasonably examines issues of citizenship, the long time delays of an overburdened immigration system and the backlogs that cause immigration cases to linger in immigration courts across the nation are often left with a cursory review. The often harsh reality of a system that provides limited to no relief for families, employers and those fleeing hostile lands is lost in the sound bites that take over the 24 hour news cycle. So how does this change?

The preamble of the Constitution begins, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Perhaps time has come to step back the hate speech and come together as a people to demand that our leaders be defined in their ability to bring us together, to encourage tranquility, and protect this and future generations. It is after all what the founding fathers had set out to do so long ago.