Attorney Jin S. Kim has been an active member of the California State Bar since 2001. His experience encompasses serving as an associate in a busy firm setting to his current position as principal counsel of the Law Office of Jin S. Kim. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) where his major course of study was in rhetoric with a minor in philosophy. Mr. Kim obtained his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Oregon where his concentration was in international law. He also received a Pro Bono Certificate from the University of Oregon School of Law. Mr. Kim is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
In a practice area among whose inhabitants are the unlicensed and those who peddle a poor background in writing to the immigrant market, Mr. Kim takes particular care in preparing clearly drafted forms and persuasive written components to important applications. Only attorneys perform drafting, from USCIS forms to legal briefs, at this office. No administrative staff or non-attorney clerks are used for any document created at the office, even for the simplest of USCIS forms.
Frequently asked questions:
1. Where is the office?
The office is located in the heart of downtown Berkeley. It is located a block away from the UC Berkeley campus and the Downtown Berkeley BART station.
2. Do you have drop-in hours?
While appointments can be arranged even a day in advance, all meetings at the office must first be scheduled through a phone call or through email. Please, call or email the office to make an appointment for a consultation.
3. Do you have weekend or evening hours?
Both weekend and evening appointments can be arranged with a few days' advance notice. I realize that most of my clients have work or classes that take up much of their time during the week. Evening and weekend appointments allow me to accommodate my clients' busy schedules.
4. Do you specialize in serving clients from one particular country?
No. My clients have come from all continents and their backgrounds are diverse. Many of my clients are US citizen petitioners, both individual and corporate. I take pride in having such a high percentage of US citizens contacting my office. Even while many immigration attorneys must solicit immigrant communities to support their offices, I market primarily in English-language media. I am able to communicate with those who are comfortable speaking in English and those who have begun to learn English as a second (or third) language.
While there are government petitions that only require the participation of the non-citizen, most petitions require a US petitioner's active involvement. Communicating with the US citizen petitioner is just as important, if not more so, as communicating with the foreign beneficiary. A common complaint in family-based immigration applications comes from the US citizen petitioner feeling "out of the loop" while the immigration attorney and the beneficiary work together on the application. Full participation by petitioner and beneficiary is important to the success of any petition.
5. Do I really need an attorney?
This is a tough question and it is the unspoken question that a lot of people have when they first start to call immigration attorneys. USCIS is doing a very good job at making forms and information accessible to the public. Gone are the days when forms were only available in hard-copy form, and only attorneys had access to expensive form drafting software. I can remember a time when consumers had to go to the local USCIS field office to pick up forms or endure a long wait on the phone to ask for forms to be mailed to them. Busy professionals often hired attorney just to avoid the hassle.
When returning clients contact me for assistance with a relatively straight-forward application, I usually ask them to take a look at the form first to see if it is something that they can put together on their own. After my clients have gone through a complex application through my office, I feel there are far fewer mysteries remaining with USCIS applications, and I feel my clients are better equipped to handle an application on their own. Still, many of these clients choose to retain my services, again.
These are questions that consumers must ask themselves: Do I fully understand the forms and the implications of the requested information and whether or not my documents are conforming? Do I have the time? What are the chances that an application will be denied and what will happen if the application is denied? How time-sensitive are these matters? How much am I willing to pay for peace of mind?
6. How do I find the right attorney for me?
There are a number of factors that would make a particular attorney right for you, some of them subjective. In addition to the specific qualifications of an attorney, the location of the office and ease of access to the attorney may be important considerations. Cost is always an important factor. There are no standard rates for legal services. Each attorney or firm will offer services in different bundles at different costs. If cost is a concern, be sure to ask what an attorney's flat fee includes and whether certain costs such as filing fees, postage or courier fees, and copy fees are included in the flat fee.
The yellow pages is one place to start. However, be warned that the the largest ad does not necessarily mean the most competent and most client-friendly service. You should use it as one of many sources to cull a list of prosective attorneys. From the list, you should check the California State Bar at their website (or if the attorney is a member of a different state's bar, go to that state's bar association website) to get some background on an attorney. The State Bar of California can be found online at www.calbar.org. At the website, you can confirm an attorney's California bar membership, education, the date she or he was admitted to the bar and, most importantly, any history of discipline. This is information that the State Bar determined to be important to disclose to the public. As a consumer, you should always look up an attorney before retaining him or her.
7. Do I really need an attorney, or can I hire a paralegal or document preparation service?
The primary reason, I believe, that consumers choose legal service agencies over attorneys is cost. However, most attorneys' offices have developed efficiencies that allow them to offer rates that are not much higher than non-attorney legal service agencies.
There certainly are benefits to retaining an attorney for immigration matters. Some attorneys belong to attorney associations that keep them abreast of the most recent changes in federal law and local filing and processing procedures. The resources of attorneys go beyond the ability to complete forms which I would assume is the area of greatest competence for non-attorney agencies. Many attorneys will contact USCIS supervisors directly to address specific problems and delays in their client's case. Attorneys are allowed to represent their clients in immigration matters and can contact USCIS on their behalf. This may be an important benefit to those who want representation at the USCIS interview. Also, communications between a client and an attorney are privileged--any correspondence or conversation is strictly confidential.
The Law Office of Jin S. Kim
2130 Center Street, Suite 7
Berkeley, California 94704
Consultations by appointment only. Evening and Saturday appointments available.