What's wrong with Canadian lawyers?

I’ve been intrigued by the probability that I have a legitimate claim to Canadian citizenship (LSS: my dad was born in Canada, emigrated to the US, and I was born here) and have written several query letters to various Canadian immigration lawyers, mainly in Hamilton, Ontario, where my dad was born, telling them I’ve got this stuff pretty well documented, and I’d like to hire a lawyer to help me with the immigration (to Canada) process.

I’ve been sending these letters from my university e-mail, with my name and title on the e-mail, not a Yahoo or hotmail address, to the official e-mails listed on their websites, and I haven’t even gotten so much as an acknowledgement from any of the half-dozen lawyers I’ve sent these to over the past year.

You’d think I’d get at least a “Piss off, Yank, we don’t need any more of you scum in our nice clean country” letter or two, wouldn’t you, or at least one unethical scumbag thinking he can make a few bucks off this stupid Yank by pretending to deal with the immigration services. But I’ve literally gotten zero responses. What’s up with that? Is there a code word I need to use?

If I had to guess I would say you’d have better luck calling them directly. A random email to busy lawyer is not likely to get a response if he has work in front of him.

Plus I’m guessing they have might have gotten a belly full of angry US citizens ready to pull the trigger on changing countries only to cool down later and have the interaction be a huge waste of time. If they have bunch of motivated, paying immigrants from 2nd world countries on their plate a random inquiry by a US student or academic might be categorized as a likely time sink.

I also have ties to Canada, and I’ve had, from time to time, occasion to seek the opinions of Canadian lawyers. They completely ignore me, and do not respond to my queries. So don’t take it personally.

Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with Canadian lawyers.

Maybe there’s some issues around unsolicited email clients, or clients in other locales than where they are licensed?

Are you sure these are real “IAAL” type lawyers? There’s a whole class of “immigration consultants” with zero real credentials, who exist for the sole purpose of charging gullible third-world applicants huge fees for filling out simple government forms. If you are responding to their advertising, they probably couldn’t be bothered with someone who doesn’t fit the usual profile for a client/mark.

Finally, why don’t you just apply for a citizenship certificate and passport from Canada?

Download the online aplication forms, send in your request.

You mean to tell me that someone who has people lining up at their door to pay hundreds of dollars per hour for legal advice isn’t responding to random emails from people they don’t know asking for free legal advice? I’m shocked!

Like md2000 said, why would you even need a lawyer? I’m Canadian (born and raised), but if I were in your shoes I’d just fill out the standard paperwork and see what happens. I would think that a lawyer would only be necessary if your application is denied or there are complications or very unusual circumstances.

ETA: Check out this page:

Well, they DO advertise that they’re eager to discuss cases with potential clients, and they DO provide e-mail addresses (and promises to return all e-mails promptly). It’s certainly standard for U.S. lawyers to offer a brief session in which you explain your case, and they explain how they work (flat fee, hourly rate, retainer, etc.). How else can they get clients?

I imagine someone trained in immigration law would be better able to decide how to fill out an immigration form successfully than a rank amateur would. If I’m willing to pay someone to help me fill out a form, why would someone be unwilling his terms for doing so? Seems like easy money to me.

I didn’t ask for free legql advice. I wrote to a lawyer in the relevant jurisdiction to ask if, in his opinion, retaining legal counsel would be to my benefit in proceeding with a matter. Specifically, it related to assets that I own in Canada, and I asked if a Canadian estate lawyer would be helpful in correctly bequeathing that property to my heirs, or in fact, whether assets in Canada would need to be probated separately by Canadian courts.

Why don’t you call and at least talk to the receptionist about setting up a phone consult? It may not be free, but at least you’d get some info. I may be able to dig up a name or two of Canadian immigraiton lawyers - we have occasion to deal with them now and again.

Eva Luna, U.S. Immigration Paralegal

Call rather than email.

Lawyers here are the target of numerous fake-client scams of various sorts and so are leery of replying to cold-call emails from outside of their province however legitimate they appear. Most likely they were culled out unread.

These scams are often considerably more sophisticated than your usual laughable Nigerian type scam. They are intended to set up a real-seeming client relationship with someone conveniently out of the jurisdiction. Here are some examples from the Alberta Law Society:


Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about who you are. In most Canadian jurisdictions there are now all sorts of “know your client” rules in effect, partly to avoid exactly this problem.

Plus, the ones that overcharge immigrants and immigrant wannabees (usually not real lawyers, just deceptive advertising) want to prey on naiive third-world types, not educated North Americans with good english, an awareness of their rights and knowledge of what things cost and how government works - and is not afraid of police. An educated North American knocking on their email door screams trouble and especially possible legal trouble, I’m sure.

if you are raised in the USA, but can’t fill out the forms yourself, maybe you shouldn’t come to Canada. (But we have no literacy requirement if you are already a citizen).

Seriously, I doubt the form is confusing. But, immigration of non-citizens to Canada is totally messed up, with years-long backlogs, allegations of visa scams in embassies, recent changes in qualiication requirements etc. It’s easier to charge some Asian thousands and claim it’s because of legal issues, they know the right contacts, and bribes that are needed, than to deal with a very different case.

I suspect that immigration lawyers in Canada have no problems getting clients and so aren’t necessarily needing to provide a high level of customer service. (I live in an area of suburban Toronto that is very attractive to new immigrants, and there are immigration lawyers all over the place.) So it is probably a simple matter of the bird in hand (the full waiting room) versus that one in the bush (you).

In Ontario at least, if you call the law society you can get the name of a lawyer (drawn at random from those with your area of need) and that gets you a free telephone consult to go over your case. In my experience when I’ve done this, they’ve been very good about getting back to me quickly. They may tell you, as someone suggested up-thread, you don’t really need a lawyer and you just need to fill out the forms. Otherwise, the purpose of the call is to tell you how long it will take and how much it will cost.

As to whats “wrong” with Canadian lawyers? The half-dozen I’ve had direct dealings with over the years have been pleasant, competent, and helpful. So I’m going to say, “nothing”! :slight_smile:

If there is any question as to whether they are a real lawyer or not, the Law Society of Upper Canada has a list or real, licenced lawyers.

As a member of the Law Society of Alberta, I constantly get notices (ironically, via e-mail) from the Law Society similar to the page that Malthus linked to, above. Heck, I once received an e-mail similar to the “Dan Nagasaki” one reported on that page. I ignored it, as I do all e-mails that do not come from an established client (note established, not potential), or another lawyer or law firm, or from some other familiar source, such as a court clerk. To the best of my knowledge, my colleagues tend to do the same.

But calling always gets my attention, so I’d add another vote for telephoning, and perhaps setting up a phone appointment. Many lawyers offer a half-hour free consult, or at least one at low cost. Or, you can get in touch with the Law Society of a province–some of them offer a referral service; which, if used, will get you a half-hour of the referred lawyer’s time at no charge.

As far as immigration goes, most immigrants to Canada of my acquaintance, never used an immigration lawyer. They did it themselves. This is reflected by what one of my colleagues, who practices solely in immigration law, does: his clients are foreign companies who want to send their foreign employees to work in Canada as quickly as possible. He knows how to fast-track things so that the proper paperwork can be issued to allow these people (and their families) to live and work in Canada for whatever period of time is necessary–a year, perhaps two, or even more. But he doesn’t deal with people who want to immigrate to Canada because they think they’d like to move here. When someone calls to ask about that, he refers them to the Canadian government web sites that explain how to do it on their own.

Without knowledge of the specific lawyers involved, this is probably better suited to IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

No big deal, I can telephone, but it strikes me as peculiar that they so prominently put an e-mail addy on their contact page, with all the usual “We will IMMEDIATELY get back to you…” boilerplate on it.

They’re not getting back to you because there’s nothing they can do for you. From what others have said in this thread, it sounds like all you need is to fill out a form. They want complex cases which actually require their skills and time be used.

Maybe PM Northern Piper and ask why he is ignoring you.

Lots of places set up web presences with great intentions, but they lose interest quickly, are overwhelmed with nonsense, and can’t be bothered to really maintain it/tend to it.

Also there is a huge immigration foul up, in Canada, at the moment. Literally thousands of people paid $800, non refundable fee, + lawyers costs, over 2-3 yrs, only to have a huge chunk of the enormous backlog simply wiped away by a change in policy by a stupid government.

There are currently, immigration lawyers suing on behalf of these and those, etc. The whole thing is a huge muck up.

All this to say, the current stupid government is both intent on reshaping immigration, to their liking, without regard for even those already invested in outcomes. I don’t see this trend reversing, to be honest. It’s not getting easier, for anyone.

All this to say, if you’re in earnest, find a referral (immigration attorneys that advertise are often suspect to some, it’s a little industry of it’s own, stringing people along, taking their money, telling them lies, etc.), and pick up a phone.

I would act now, without delay.