"It's immediately apparent that they personally care."
There's an old joke: "What do you call 3000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?". Answer? "A good start." That would describe my attitude when I emailed Shihab & Associates.
I'm not sure the conventional lexicon has the words to accurately describe my gratitude to Gus and his team. After 4 years of paperwork, 2 lawyers, and a previous complaint to the California Bar, your faith in the immigration machine can reach the breaking point. It's no understatement the company emphasizes "ethics" as a differentiator. My case sits on the "extraordinary" end of the USCIS spectrum, and I'm sure it will make some kind of history in the horror section of a legal journal. Language like "inconceivable" and "riddled with errors" were used in response to USCIS.
If you wanted to be concise about what makes this team different, you could summarise it by saying it's immediately apparent that they personally care. You're not just a reference number; you're a person going through one of the most needlessly frustrating organizations on planet Earth. Doesn't sound like much, but when you've burned through a few of the more impersonal, cynical attorneys ratcheting up the numbers to file template documents, it makes all the difference. Gus's briefs actually look like court papers. They are tight, well-argued, diligent, and have a feel of excellence. His practical grasp of jurisprudence is without peerage in my experience to date.
My case was an initial inquiry into embassy visa reviews, but quickly the scope spawned into a 3-week marathon race to file a motion correcting what can only be described as some of the most epic governmental stupidity even a 3rd-grade schoolkid would roll their eyes at. Magdalena was at work over a weekend to get the brief right; when I was curious as to why she was blunt that cases where she can make a real difference excited and fulfilled her. I don't think I've ever heard an attorney speak in those tones. They even had a British solicitor on hand to flesh out the nuance.
I've giggled on the phone with Gus, swapped jokes over email, pounded the team with homework, expressed my frustration, and received nothing but professional, compassionate support. Therapy isn't in the job description, but I'm in no doubt that everyone at Shihab actually cares about the case outcome. And it's no joke to say that Gus has been 100% accurate so far about each one of those outcomes, without exception.
The financials haven't been easy, but I've learned the hard way you really get what you pay for and there's no easy way around what is an unimpeachably flawed, inefficient, and in many cases, entirely hopelessly under-funded immigration system. Gus helped me to see what an unconscionable turd-in-the-punch my previous attorney had created for me, and refilled the bowl with a much more agreeable Martini mix. US immigration comes with an absolutely obnoxious price tag. If you're going to have to write cheques, it's a painful rite of passage learning who to pay, and who not to. WIth the contributions I've made towards multiple people's Lamborghini funds, the ease at which I can accept Gus's itemized costs is a rare experience of trust.
From the reception desk to the librarian, Gus has a personable team that is a delight to deal with, a legal hive mind that is genuinely on their clients' side, and a professional machine on a mission to make every other legal firm look bad by comparison.
Truth fears no investigation, and the best way to win the loyalty of others is a self-evident expression of integrity. It's easy to win clients when they know you're damned good. The reason Shihab will have all of my business through the immigration nightmare through to naturalization isn't that of something they purported and advertised to be, but because of who they happily wanted to show me they were. And my inevitable jokes tomorrow morning about Gus's hilarious full name.