All lawyers know that research is key. Good research equals success, sloppy research equals all manner of problems. Naturally, we all want to do the highest quality research possible. But research is not cheap. On top of the time that it takes to read through cases, statutes, and treatises, we also need access to the right resources.
What’s more, in a small law practice time is always scarce. Solo practitioners and attorneys in two or three attorney firms don’t have time to spend wading through barely relevant information. On top of that, lawyers who run removal defense practices are not exactly getting rich. Money is always a factor to consider. The big research services are great, but very expensive. Law libraries in courthouses and law schools are often free, but they are rarely located near an Immigration Court.
And that’s where crImmigration.com enters the picture. Given how much time I spend doing immigration law research for our firm and other attorneys, I have developed an extensive network of free legal research resources that are available from most immigration law offices. Yes, free. Not low cost. Free. Most of these will be available online so they’re accessible whenever you want them from whereever you can access the internet. Starting today crImmigration.com will periodically write about these free legal research resources.
The first free legal research resource that I want to point to is probably the one that I was most excited to learn about—the EOIR’s Virtual Law Library. As the name implies, this web site is run by the EOIR. It includes a wealth of information helpful to anyone who practices in Immigration Court. For example, the web site links to the BIA Practice Manual, Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and the latest information about Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
In my experience, by far the best feature of the Virtual Law Library, though, is its compilation of BIA and Attorney General Decisions. The web site has the full text of decisions going back to volume 8 of the Immigration and Nationality Laws (the “I&N” of the usual citation format). That means that any decision of the BIA or AG beginning on November 1, 1955 is available for free in PDF format. You can download it, print it, and show up to court ready to argue off of it.
The site also includes a convenient index for volumes 16-24 that is searchable using the “Find” feature of your PDF reader. The topics in this index are surprisingly useful—for example, “aiding and abetting,” “conviction of crime—misdemeanor offense,” “intent,” and “petty offense.” There is a very long list of specific criminal convictions that are especially useful to removal practitioners.
Coming in a near second for best feature is the sign-up page to receive BIA and AG decisions by email. Just add your email address to their list and Katherine Edwards at the EOIR will send you the latest precedential decisions usually on the day that they are issued. She even includes a short summary of the case in the event that you don’t have time to read the entire decision. This is the one list that guarantees that you will never be caught off guard by a new BIA decision.