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Recent Blog Posts
Last week, I presented at the NCIC 2020 on the emerging topic of Critical Race Theory. I wanted to share such a slice of my presentation for further discussion.
Vital and pertinent observations from Will Tao and Sharry Aiken during the #NCIC2020 panel
Implied Status can be complicated.
During the COVID pandemic, I have heard from both employers and employees that understanding when a worker can or cannot work is confusing, and leads to legal risks.
Why Rain is Right: There is No Principled Reason for Why A Canadian Temporary Resident Should Be Denied the Right to Change Their Legal Gender
Rain Edmond, a third-year political science undergraduate student, recently wrote an op-ed for her university’s Memorial University Gazette that raises an important question about a policy gap disproportionately affecting the intersection
More and more I have been approached by spousal (spouses and common-law partner) sponsorship Applicants and Sponsors asking me to provide a review of their materials in lieu of full representation. While I still recommend those that can afford it to pursue full representation if possible, I understand the benefit of hourly review during these times.
Yet, many lawyers and law firms I know are unwilling to do hourly review because of the risk and uncertainties this work poses. Many are afraid that having an incomplete picture that can lead to incomplete advice, and create liability problems down the road.
I believe spousal reviews is not only a necessary part of my practice but good for access to justice. However, because of the misalignment between the clients seeking the services and the lawyers willing to offer it, many times confusion is created.
In this piece, I put forward six points that will make it easier for self-represented applicants to approach lawyers and work through the review process.
Point 1: Understand Our Mutual Limitations and Constraints
The main constraint of the self-represented applicants seeking my assistance in hourly review is cost. They are unable to pay a full set fee, have exhausted public information (from forums, blogs, etc.) and now need help on specific pieces of their application. Most often times these specific issues include inadmissibility, letters of explanation, police certificates, etc.
From the lawyer’s perspective, the constraint is usually more based on risk. With only incomplete or piecemeal information, how can a proper job of assessing a file be done? Is the time spent on this particular issue (usually clients will want reviews to be done in 2-3 hours or less) worth the possibility of not being able to see the application, the whole way through.
First, in order for this process to worth smoothly, an immigration lawyer must prepare a clear retainer that indicates the scope of work (limited scope retainer) and in subsequent emails continue to set and establish the expectations of both sides. Applicants and Sponsors should be aware that a full cover to cover review does take several hours (ideally 4-5 hours +) and limiting the budget of a review to only 2 or 3 hours may not allow for all the details to be adequately looked at.
In some cases, this will be fine as your issues are limited to particular areas. In a limited review, it is my practice to clarify with you both at the outset of my review and as well after providing my comments and recommended changes, that I did not see the full application and cannot be responsible for issues such as incompleteness.
This is a risk the Applicant must bear in a limited review, but ultimately where the cost savings also occur.
My Value Proposition
My Canadian immigration/refugee legal practice is based on trust, honesty, hard-work, and communication. I don’t work for you. I work with you.
You know your story best, I help frame it and deal with the deeper workings of the system that you may not understand. I hope to educate you as we work together and empower you.
I aim for that moment in every matter, big or small, when a client tells me that I have become like family to them. This is why I do what I do.
I am a social justice advocate and a BIPOC. I stand with brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ2+ and Indigenous communities. I don’t discriminate based on the income-level of my clients – and open my doors to all. I understand the positions of relative privilege I come from and wish to never impose them on you. At the same time, I also come from vulnerability and can relate to your vulnerable experiences.
I am a fierce proponent of diversity and equality. I want to challenge the racist/prejudiced institutions that still underlie our Canadian democracy and still simmer in deep-ceded mistrusts between cultural communities. I want to shatter those barriers for the next generation – our kids.
I come from humble roots, the product of immigrant parents with an immigrant spouse. I know that my birth in this country does not entitle me to anything here. I am a settler on First Nations land. Reconciliation is not something we can stick on our chests but something we need to open our hearts to. It involves acknowledging wrongdoing for the past but an optimistic hope for the future.
I love my job! I get to help people for a living through some of their most difficult and life-altering times. I am grateful for my work and for my every client.