Edward C. Beshara
Attorney at Law/Managing Partner, Beshara Global Migration Law Firm
1. PRACTICE INFRASTRUCTURE
Attorneys practicing in the EB-5 area might be involved in a number of different office infrastructures.
They may practice in a boutique law firm either exclusively practicing in U.S. immigration law or a combination of immigration and general practice. The same exclusivity and combination may apply to practitioners in a large law firm practice.
The advice given below as to how to manage a successful EB-5 practice will apply to attorneys regardless of the structure or size of the practice.
2. EB-5 SPECIALIZATION
Becoming proficient in the EB-5 area will require cost and time to attend seminars, conferences, and, of course, practical experience representing EB-5 clients. The goal is to gain a reputation as a practitioner who specializes in this area, and thus, increase the pool of potential clients.
3. IMPORTANCE OF EFFECTIVE MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
The goal is to remain front and center of the target market. This requires ensuring continual awareness of the attorney’s expertise and specialized practice areas such as EB-5.
Identify the target market. Clients and potential clients may include principals who are involved or desire to form EB-5 regional centers and/or EB-5 regional center projects. They also include potential foreign national investors for EB-5 projects.
Be aware that there are many marketing groups that may wish to market or advertise the practitioner’s EB-5 legal services, but they usually charge a fee. It is essential to research the credibility and effectiveness of marketing from this advertising group before paying for a service.
Remember the phrase, and avoid “out of sight, out of mind.”
4. STARTING AN EFFECTIVE EB-5 PRACTICE
Immediate expertise is required in order to effectively represent clients and potential clients in the EB-5 area.
The best advice for today’s EB-5 market is to co-counsel with experienced and well known EB-5 attorneys. Doing so allows the practitioner to access to a credible and experienced EB-5 attorney and ensures expeditious EB-5 representation. Building this kind of expertise into the practice increases the likelihood that prospective clients will engage the practitioner’s law firm for EB-5 representation.
5. TEAM OF EB-5 PROFESSIONALS
There is also an equal need to have an experienced, specialized, and well-known team of professionals, which will include an EB-5 immigration attorney, securities law attorney, economist, and business planner.
In giving direction, the EB-5 attorney should be aware of both the client’s timeline and a realistic amount of item time required for the team to supply necessary documentation. The project must be EB-5 compliant with USCIS rules, regulations, and policies. The goal is for the team to provide the EB-5 project the adequate supporting documentation required for USCIS approval.
6. MARKETING OF AN EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER PROJECT
The EB-5 regional center project must be EB-5 compliant with USCIS rules, regulations and policies but to be successful, should also be marketable and attractive to foreign national investors.
It is essential for the EB-5 regional center project to contact and start a dialogue with a group organization that has immediate access to a source of foreign national investors who intend to invest their funds.
7. IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY’S EB-5 DUE DILIGENCE
It is imperative that EB-5 attorneys only offer legal advice on EB-5 rules, regulations and policies, and represent the EB-5 regional center projects and/or foreign national investors only in this respect.
8. BAR COMPLIANCE
If the foreign national investor client decides to invest in a particular EB-5 regional center project, the project may offer to pay the practitioner a finder’s fee. However, please note some bar rules do not authorize the attorney to accept this finder’s fee, in which case the attorney should decline the fee.
9. OVERHEAD AND OPERATIONAL COSTS
Without a doubt the EB-5 practice is labor intensive, requires a substantial amount of time by staff, and a substantial amount of supporting documentation. Thus, it is imperative that the practitioner have a substantive business plan with a factored annual budget that takes into account increases in staffing and overhead costs in representing a larger number of EB-5 clients.
In an EB-5 regional center practice, the law firm may be chosen by a broker to represent all of the foreign national investors for the EB-5 regional center project. For example, the law firm may have to represent 50 foreign national investors. To avoid the unnecessary overhead and operation costs of extra staff, it may be prudent and cost-effective to retain credible and specialized organizations to prepare an index to documentation showing the authentication of the source of personal investment funds. The cost of hiring these organizations might be less than the cost of hiring new staff.
10. MAINTAINING AN EFFICIENT EB-5 PRACTICE
The key to effectively and efficiently managing a practice is regularity and consistency. For instance, schedule weekly meetings with the staff to review case statuses, timelines, and deadlines for filings or work to be done.
It is important for the experienced EB-5 attorneys or the co-counsel EB-5 attorney to have an open-door policy for discussing questions and reviewing analysis with the staff. The team effort approach is essential to the EB-5 practice, which in turns benefits the clients.
11. BALANCE WORK AND LIFE
An EB-5 practice is not the usual 9-to-5 job, but often becomes a part of the practitioner’s lifestyle. It is common that the EB-5 practitioner and staff look forward to coming to work each day and that the law office and practice become a part of the team’s life. This integration necessitates enjoyment to be incorporated into the work environment. However, it also requires the ability to effectively balance the work with friends, family and personal time.
With current technology, the practitioner can work from home and take necessary breaks with the family or friends. For instance, the EB-5 practitioner may be relaxing under an umbrella or tent at the beach and still be able to work on cases. The practitioner can easily communicate by mobile phone, and retrieve, review and send emails with a smart tablet.
The state of the practitioner’s informed and relaxed state of mind should allow for a happy and stress-free vacation, and as a result, the practitioner’s family remains happy and in good spirits during the vacation.
EB-5 clients should always be confident that the chosen EB-5 practitioner has the knowledge, expertise, and experience to represent them and achieve their goals.
EB-5 practitioners should not offer guarantees of results or offer business advice on any EB-5 project.
It is always beneficial to co-counsel with experienced EB-5 practitioners for EB-5 projects under the right circumstances.
There is a well-known phrase which summarizes this article on how to develop a successful EB-5 Law Practice, “THE LAST WORD IN SELF HELP IS HELP.”
Edward Beshara, Managing Partner of BESHARA PA, a global migration law firm based in Orlando, Florida, has been exclusively practicing U.S. Business Immigration Law since 1983 for over 35 years and EB-5 for 27 years. He represents U.S. EB-5 Regional Centers and foreign national client investors. Past President of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) Central Florida Chapter. Currently on AILA National EB-5 Conference Committee, and Global Migration Steering Committee. Member of Advisory Committee of Investment Migration Council, Geneva, Switzerland. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Business Immigration Law and Practice at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Top 25 EB-5 Immigration Attorneys rated by EB5Investors Magazine and highly rated on EB5info.com. Speaker, moderator, discussion leader on many National and Global EB-5 panels, and author of many EB-5 articles.