Appellate practice dedicated exclusively to filing deportation appeals, motions to reopen, reconsider, remand and/or reissue before Immigration Judges or the Board of Immigration Appeals, and filing petitions for judicial review of deportation orders in all of the Federal Circuits of the United States. Although this website is designed mainly to assist immigration attorneys in their deportation defense practice, this website is also useful for noncitizens in deportation proceedings that are acting without attorneys as a source of valid information.


 [*] See sample "INDIVIDUAL TERMS" in a PDF file at the bottom of this page.


Overview. The terms “We”, “Us” or “Our” used throughout this Legal Services Agreement ("The Agreement", or "LSA") shall refer to Immigration_AppealWorks®, a division of the National Immigration Appellate Project, Inc., under an exclusive contractual operating lease to the Law Offices of Bernal Peter Ojeda ("LOOBPO"). The terms “You”, “Your”, “Yours”, “Client” or "Obligor" shall refer to you— the contracting attorney or law office or other person for whom we are being contracted to assess, research, prepare and file an appeal, motion, or petition on behalf of your own client — and whom accepts to abide by all terms of The Agreement, as well as any other individual or entity that has been given access by you to your account or has been authorized by you to contract our professional services in your behalf, and as expressly covered in "Paragraph (¶) III" below. The Agreement sets forth the general terms and conditions that apply to all LSAs, and it is in addition to the specific terms and conditions that apply to your own "Individual Terms" addendums as explained above. NOTE that when You contract Our services, you are accepting each of the terms contained in The Agreement and will be legally bound to honor them in a court of law. In particular we bring to your attention ¶ XIII entitled ARBITRATION/SMALL CLAIMS COURT forcing You and Us to submit any fee disputes to the Ventura Bar Association of California State Arbitration Program as described in said ¶ XIII. Nothing in The Agreement shall be deemed to confer any third-party rights or benefits under any circumstances..

Preamble. This is a nineteen (19) paragraphs (and numerous subparagraphs) legal services contract (“The Agreement”) expressly and purposely designed to address all possible contingencies that may arise during the legal representation of the Client(s) whom, for all intents and purposes throughout The Agreement, is also referred to in The Agreement as “The Obligor” and whom is the principal person that is legally obligated to perform obligations arising under this contract for legal services. Furthermore, for all intents and purposes, all terms in The Agreement that reference “The Obligor” and those referencing “You”, "Your" or "Yours" are merged into one and the same and thereon apply with equal force and effect to You as they apply to The Obligor. CAVEAT: Please note that not all provisions of this contract may apply to Your particular case (for example, if Your legal fees portion of The Agreement is for a fixed rate amount ("Fixed Rate Fee" see  ¶ VII below) — as opposed to a contract based on an hourly rate ("Hourly Rate Fee Agreement" see ¶ VII-b below)— the provisions regarding costs for reproduction of documents such as copying, faxing, mailing etc., will be inapplicable to Your case provided Our legal representation of You in Your case is fully completed under the fixed fee amount agreement). If, for any reason, completion of Our performance as it is contemplated in this legal services agreement under this contract is not fully completed (i.e., it is terminated before completion) the fixed fee agreement will be automatically changed to an Hourly Rate Fee Agreement as expressly noted below and the hours worked in your case will be computed at the hourly rate expressly noted below instead of the fixed rate. In addition, all of the provisions regarding costs for reproduction of documents such as copying, faxing, mailing etc., and others that were not applicable in the fixed legal fee agreement will become applicable to The Agreement. However, most of the provisions in this contract will apply in all cases. Should You have any questions, please contact Your attorney to be clear about all contents of this legal services contract before signing The Agreement.

I. DATE OF AGREEMENT. This legal services Agreement between the parties for all intents and legal purposes is executed on ____[date]_____ in Ventura County, State of California.

I-a. EFFECTIVE DATE OF AGREEMENT. The effective date of The Agreement will be the date when, having been executed by You, one copy of the executed Agreement is received by Us and We receive the payment required as a retainer described in Paragraph VII denominated “LEGAL FEES” of The Agreement.

II. PARTIES. The Agreement, is entered into between Immigration_Appealworks®, an exclusive Nationwide Deportation Appellate Practice and a division of the National Immigration Appellate Project, Inc., (hereinafter referred to as: “Us”, “We”, or “Our”) and You (and “The Obligor” if applicable) for the purposes of representing You the person named above in filing and prosecuting Your __[Specific Representation]___. The Agreement is executed in duplicate with each party receiving an executed original. An executed original agreement is any facsimile of The Agreement that has been signed by You.  For purposes of The Agreement, the delivery and receipt of a signed facsimile thereof, will fully satisfy the requirement of “receiving an executed original”. The Agreement is executed pursuant to the provisions of California Business and Professions Code, Section 6148 and it is intended to fulfill the requirements of that section. The parties understand and agree that this legal service agreement is fully governed by the laws of the State of California, where the description of the legal work is to be performed.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

III. PAYMENT OF FEES MADE BY ONE OTHER THAN YOU. You and where applicable, Your agents and assignees acknowledge that Our legal and ethical duties and responsibilities lie exclusively with You, the above named client and on whose behalf we have been contracted to represent. If a person other than You, with Your consent either pays or accepts legal responsibility of paying any or all of the legal fees owed to Us under The Agreement, this fact will not alter the principle that Our ultimate responsibility is exclusively owed to You, the client, and no one else. The fact that any such person referred to in The Agreement as The Obligor(s), agent(s) or assignee(s)—either pays or accepts legal responsibility to pay the legal fees owed to Us for the legal services described herein— gives absolutely no right or privilege to any such person to attempt to in any way whatsoever, influence the outcome of the case or otherwise, believe himself or herself entitled to any rights or privileges arising from The Agreement, including but not limited to the terminating of the contractual relationship, which is only legally afforded to You under The Agreement, as permitted by California law and as mentioned herein. By placing Your initials immediately after this paragraph, You, the person signing The Agreement acknowledge to have read and understood the terms of this clause and furthermore acknowledge to have the express authority of the client to enter into this contract to obtain legal representation as noted below in the Legal Services To Be Provided clause of this agreement and to make the payments as herein required.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

IV. LEGAL SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED. The legal services to be provided by Us to You on Your behalf are as follows: ___[Specify in Detail and Bold Type]___.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

IV-a. LEGAL SERVICES SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED. Legal services that are not to be provided by Us to You under the terms of The Agreement specifically include, but are not limited to, the following: any and all legal representation following a final decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals in connection with Your direct appeal or motion to reopen removal proceedings, or by the Immigration Judge in connection with Your motion to reopen removal proceedings, or by the United States Court of Appeals for the corresponding federal circuit, if applicable. In the event Your case involves a Petition for Review before any of the United States Courts of Appeal for any of the eleven federal circuits, services specifically excluded are the presentation of oral argument to the panel assigned to decide the petition. The majority of cases are decided by the federal circuits without presentation of oral argument. But in rare occasions that the federal courts will invite the parties to present oral argument before a panel of three judges in any of the federal circuits, such legal services will require that You and Us enter into a separate agreement to cover the costs associated with such representation. You further understand that if You wish to retain Us to represent You in any other proceedings not expressly included in The Agreement a new legal service agreement will be required.

V. MODIFICATIONS MUST BE IN WRITING. The Agreement is a fully integrated contract. Any modifications or additions to The Agreement must be in writing and its specific terms shall be annexed to the within agreement in an Addendum attached to the original agreement and properly dated. Any attempted oral or other modifications to The Agreement whatsoever will be rendered invalid unless they are in writing and supported by consideration.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

VI. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PARTIES. We will perform the legal services described under The Agreement, keep You informed from time to time as the case progresses and new developments have taken place in Your case. We will respond promptly to Your inquiries and communications whether made in writing or not. You understand and agree that we do not contact you to inform you about the status of your case if no progress or new developments have taken place in your case since the last communication we had with You about Your case. You understand and agree that it will be your exclusive prerogative to inquire from us about Your case from time to time. You on the other hand will be truthful and cooperative with Us; You will keep Us reasonably informed of developments that may affect the progress and/or conclusion of the services provided to You under The Agreement. You will provide Us with a valid unexpired email address where we can communicate with You anytime, or You will open and maintain an email address where notices can be forwarded to You by Us at all times during Your representation in Your case. You understand that it will be Your obligation to provide us with any changes to Your email accounts where We can reach You so as to always keep Us informed on how We may contact You at all times during Our representation of You. You will also maintain Us informed of Your true residence address and any telephone numbers where You may easily be reached in the event of an emergency; You will maintain all of Your obligations to timely make any payment as required by The Agreement.

VII. FIXED RATE FEE AGREEMENTS. You hereby agree to pay Us the sum of $___[in bold type]______.00 for all of the legal services listed above. You agree to pay the sum of $___[in bold type]______.00 as a full retainer, by depositing the sum of $.___[in bold type]_____.00 as requested under The Agreement You further agree to pay the filing fee of $___[in bold type]___.00 required by the [Place Name of Entity in bold type] for accepting and adjudicating Your [Name the Document in bold type].

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

VII-a. WHERE TO MAKE PAYMENTS. All payments to Us shall be made by depositing directly into Our Corporate Bank Account of the National Immigration Appellate Project, Inc., with BANK OF AMERICA, Account No. _____-_____ or, depending on Your preference, into Our Corporate Bank Account of the National Immigration Appellate Project, Inc., with CHASE BANK, Account No. ____________ and, by keeping the deposit receipt for Your own records and to produce upon request by Us proof that all payments have been made under the specific terms of The Agreement. Payment may also be completed through the use of credit cards by employing the PayPal nationwide services as shown in Our website at You (or The Obligor) acknowledge and understand that it is Your sole responsibility to keep all receipts for payments made in this account, and that it shall be Your sole responsibility to ensure that they are kept in a safe easy to find place. The loss of any such receipts will not absolve You from the responsibility to demonstrate to Us that any payment was satisfactorily made. You acknowledge that We may properly consider a presumption of non-payment of any obligation under The Agreement, if You cannot establish You made a timely payment under the terms of The Agreement by showing a bank receipt.  You further acknowledge that You can discharge Your responsibility by faxing a copy of the bank receipt to Our offices and receiving an email from Us expressly acknowledging such receipt. 

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

VII-b. TRUST ACCOUNT BALANCE; LATE PAYMENT ASSESSMENTS TO ALL PAYMENTS WHETHER "FIXED RATE FEE" OR "HOURLY RATE FEE" AGREEMENTS; AND NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF REPRESENTATION. In cases where monthly payments have been agreed upon by Us and You on contracts of legal services by the hour, each payment as agreed must be made by no later than the 5th day after the date of the billing statement has been emailed to You. You also understand that at all times without exception, the Attorney-Client Trust Account must contain a balance of no less than $3,000.00. You further acknowledge and understand that each hour or portion of the hour of work performed by Us will be billed to the Attorney-Client Trust Account under Your name but those hours must be paid immediately to Us, so that the Attorney- Client Trust Account must always contain a minimum balance of $3,000.00.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

VII-c. LATE ASSESSMENTS IN ALL PAYMENTS. A late assessment will be added in the amount of $55 for each payment that is not received or not postmarked before the 5th day from the date selected in The Agreement (or shown in the billing statement if this is an Hourly Fee Rate contract) regardless of whether The Agreement is for an hourly rate or a fixed rate. This means that because Your billing statement is (for example) $333.33 payable by no later than when it is due on the 5th of each month, if you are five (5) days late in any of your monthly billing statements You will be required to pay Us the monthly billing statement due plus the “late assessment fee” of $55.00 for each billing statement payment that is five (5) days late. You further acknowledge that if You fall behind in any monthly billing statement payment that is due, for a period of more than ten (10) days from the billing statement date, We reserve the legal right to withdraw from the case, with written notice to You and to the corresponding administrative or judicial forums where entry of appearance as attorney were made. You also acknowledge that if We have to withdraw from the case based on Your failure to make payment to Us within the referenced ten (10) days from the billing statement date emailed to You, You hereby acknowledge that in such event, Your contract with Us will be converted into an Hourly Fee Rate contract as a result for the reasons stated in Part VII-d of this contract, described immediately below.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

VII-d. ACKNOWLEDGMENT REGARDING AUTOMATIC CONVERSION OF THE LEGAL FEES CONTRACTED IN FIXED LEGAL FEE AGREEMENTS BECAUSE OF EARLY TERMINATION OF ORIGINALLY CONTRACTED SERVICES. Should either party (Us or You) initiate termination or be required to terminate The Agreement for any reason, be it at Your request or Our own initiative, if the original legal fee agreement entered into for the representation of You was for a fixed legal fees amount, upon early termination before full completion of the legal services contracted for, You acknowledge that the original legal fees portion of The Agreement will be automatically converted, accounted and billed for under the hourly rate fee shown above and not at a pro-rated fixed legal fees amount as originally selected. You acknowledge Your understanding that the primary reason for this automatic conversion of the legal fees is because a fixed amount legal fee is agreed upon by the parties in exchange for, and in contemplation of the fulfillment of the precondition that the legal services contracted by the parties will be fully performed by both parties. Early termination of the agreement before full performance by one of the parties deprives the other of the benefits of their bargained exchange. You further understand that in most cases, the total number of hours that ultimately are spent by Us in delivering the services contracted under a fixed legal fees rate exceeds those that are estimated at the time of entering into the Agreement, thereby resulting in an unintended diminished hourly rate for Us if pro-rated under the fixed legal fees rate originally described.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

VII-e. FOR HOURLY RATE AGREEMENTS, AFTER HOURS AND RUSH WORK RATES FOR HOURLY FEE RATE AGREEMENTS: You acknowledge that Our regular hourly rates are billed at $325.00 per hour, with quarterly minutes (15 minutes) intervals of work performed by the Attorney. You also acknowledge that any legal services performed in Our office by the Attorney between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. or on weekends, holidays, or on a rush basis due to extenuated circumstances (such as those arising from the threat of an immediate imminent deportation) other than owing to Our calendar demands, will be charged at the rate of $ 425.00 per hour.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .


You understand and agree that We may change the hourly fee rates during the term of The Agreement by giving You thirty (30) days-notice in advance in writing. This provision is only applicable to Hourly Rate Fee Agreements. It does not apply to fixed fee Agreements.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

VIII. WHO WORKS ON THE CASE. You agree that We have and will continue to have the right to bring into the case other lawyers to work on Your case. You understand and hereby consent that other lawyers may be brought by Us to work on Your case, and that their hourly compensation for the work they will perform is directly commensurate to the amount of work that has or will be performed and commensurate to their specific expertise. You also understand that the total fees charged by the inclusion of other lawyers into performing Our legal work in this case, is not increased solely by reason of the inclusion of other attorneys' work in Your case, and the same is not unconscionable as this term has been defined by rule 4-200 of the Rules of Professional Conduct applied to all members of the State Bar of California. You hereby give the power for all lawyers, law clerks, paralegals, legal assistants and interns who are now working for Us as employees or independent contractors or individuals who are hired in the future, to work on Your case. We or any lawyer hired by Us to perform any professional work in Your case, will not perform any service for You unless it says so in The Agreement.

VIII-a. CASE CONTROL. You give Us the right to take all steps in Your case that We believe are worth taking, including filing lawsuits, motions or other legal papers on Your behalf. When We believe it is right to do so, We will give way to You to make decisions that affect Your case, and We will inform You of what You should do and when it is in Your best interest.

IX. NO IMPLIED GUARANTEES. Although We may offer Our opinions about possible results regarding the subject matter of The Agreement, You understand and acknowledge that We cannot legally guarantee, implicitly or otherwise, the outcome of the litigation. Any opinions offered by Us do not and will not constitute a guaranty of the outcome of Your case.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

X. COSTS. You will pay all “costs” in connection with the legal representation of You, the client under The Agreement. All costs of filing fees must be paid in advance by You before We submit the applications or file the motions or petitions. Otherwise, costs may be advanced by Us and then billed to You. For purposes of The Agreement, costs are all those expenses associated with the services that are being provided by Us for the benefit of You (such as filing fee of $110 charged by the Board of Immigration Appeals, or $500 charged by the United States Court of Appeals) and other costs that may be incurred with third parties, including filing fees on applications before the administrative agency of the courts for the adjudication of the services contracted. You also understand and acknowledge that we use FedEx or other overnight delivery services for forwarding and filing documents to the various agencies and the federal courts required in each case, and such costs are also billed to You before completion of The Agreement with accompanying evidence demonstrating that the FedEx or other overnight delvery services costs pertain to your own case.  

XI. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF NO ERRORS AND OMISSIONS INSURANCE COVERAGE OR AGREEMENT GUARANTEEING PAYMENT OF CLAIM. We do not maintain errors and omissions coverage and have not filed with the State Bar an executed copy of a written agreement, as provided by state law and State Bar rules, guaranteeing payment of all claims established against Us or the attorneys for errors or omissions arising out of the practice of law.

XII. ADDITIONAL FEES: You understand that We may use assistants and paralegals to do quality legal work at a savings to You where doing so does not affect or prejudice You. You agree that We may meet with Our staff and review their work. You agree to pay for that time. You will be billed for time spent by Paralegals at an hourly rate of $ 75.00 and Legal Assistants at an hourly rate of $ 95.00 and Law Clerks at an hourly rate of $125.00. You agree and understand that Paralegals, Law Clerks and Legal Assistants billing time includes that time spent in helping Us working on Your case as well as time spent with You or on the telephone with You and time spent photocopying papers or any other time spent on behalf of Your case. You agree and understand that conversations with bookkeepers, legal assistants or paralegals are not legal advice. However, in an attempt to keep costs down by Us to relay information to You, You agree that research and other work that We believe is important may be done by a law clerk, paralegal, legal assistant or any other employee so long as We believe is able to do the work.


Both We and You agree to resolve all fee disputes by binding arbitration before the Ventura Bar Association or California State Bar Arbitration Program, except for fee disputes in Small Claims Court. Fee disputes relate only to those disputes involving charges and credits pertaining to the accounting ledger maintained by Us in an individual client's case, and do not include the actual legal services fees that form part of the negotiated terms between You and Us at the time of entering into The Agreement. You acknowledge that part of the terms of The Agreement specifically include Paragraph VII-d as described above, and You agree that We have the right to automatically convert a fixed legal fee agreement into an hourly rate for any of the reasons described in that paragraph in circumstances where there is an early termination of The Agreement.     

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .


We understand that it is Your wish to have Us represent You only so long as You are totally satisfied with the legal services provided by Us, and the legal fees and costs charged by Us. You agree that it is Our wish to represent only clients who:

a. Are satisfied with the services We provide You;

b. Do what We tell You to do related to Your case; and

c. Pays Us for the legal services We provide You, and the court costs spent in 
representing You.

XV. ATTORNEY'S RIGHT TO WITHDRAW. You understand that You have the right to have Us, upon Your request, get out of the case by requesting that We sign a form called substitution of attorney. You also understand that when this happens, You will receive the original file from Us and that We can only keep the original notes or personal papers.

We, believing that it is Our right to get out of the case, will ask You to sign the substitution of attorney form, if any of the following problems happen:

1. You want to do or suggests a criminal or illegal act; or

2. We discover You have used Our services to do an illegal act; or

3. You insist that We do something that is unethical or is unwise; or

4. If You and Us do not get along to the point that they mistrust each other; or

5. You do not talk or write to Us after we ask of You to do so; or

6. If Your bill goes unpaid for a period over 10 days beyond the due date; or

7. You refuse to accept or offer a settlement which We believe is reasonable; or

8. You do not follow Our advice.

We will NOT file a substitution of attorney form or motion to withdraw as attorney unless the following protections have been made:

d. We give You enough notice to get a new Attorney;

e. We deliver to You all papers and property belonging to You.

  1. We act to keep You safe from possible harm by an upcoming court hearing or 
other action by obtaining a continuance.

If You refuse to sign the substitution of attorney form when asked within five (5) days, We have the right to file a MOTION TO WITHDRAW as Attorney of record with the corresponding administrative agency or appellate court.

It is Your right to substitute Us out of Your case at any time. You realize that a Substitution of Attorney has NO EFFECT ON THE FEES AND COSTS IN THE AGREEMENT, or its automatic conversion to Hourly Rate Fee agreement provisions if applicable.

After The Agreement is ended by Substitution of Attorney or Motion to Withdraw, We have the right to have a copy of Your file and will have the right to charge You $ 0.13 per page for copy charges.


You understand that We usually see You only after making an appointment, except in emergencies. Walk-in appointments are not made, unless an emergency. You understand that We may from time to time have to change appointments and that this will be done at the earliest possible time. You further understand that We may have to change an appointment at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. We apologize in advance for any and all inconveniences this may cause You. We would appreciate You notifying Us of any appointments You are unable to keep in advance of the appointment.


You understand that You may end The Agreement, with or without cause, in writing to Us at any time subject to the automatic conversion to Hourly Rate Fee agreemet provisions in The Agreement, if applicable. We shall return to You your original file promptly after The Agreement ends.

You understand that You have the right to talk to another lawyer before signing The Agreement. You agree that no legal work will be performed by Us until the retainer fee is paid in full but if we do any work in advance of payment because You asked us to do so in circumstances where time is of the essence, You also agree that You are obligated to pay for it whether or not You decide to use the work We do for You.


You understand that there are to be no additions, strike outs, changes or waivers of any kind whatsoever to The Agreement unless the change is in writing and signed by both Us and You. Further, You understand that The Agreement applies to this case only, not to other cases or legal problems not expressly included in The Agreement.


Some events not covered by The Agreement are post-judgment motions, applications or petitions or any other actions of any kind to be filed after the inital judgment. Further, You understand that bringing or defending appeals are not covered by The Agreement regardless of when the need for such actions may arise unless The Agreement states so.

XIX. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. The Agreement contains the entire Agreement of the parties. No other Agreement, statement, or promise made on or before the effective date of The Agreement will be binding on the parties as not representative of the final Agreement of the parties. The contracting party or parties acknowledge that they have read, understood and agreed to, all of the terms of this service Agreement and by affixing their respective signatures below they execute The Agreement.

Place your initials only after understanding and accepting this clause _________ .

_________________________________________ Dated: ___ /___ /2021


Complete Name

Complete Residence Address

Complete eMail Address


NOTE: Email addresses are very important in our appellate practice. We can inform you promptly of any matters that need your attention, and you can inform us of the same promptly. You must therefore maintain a valid email address at all times during our representation of You.


Click the PDF document made available immediately below to review the published "Individual Terms Sample" addendum to all of our "Legal Services Agreement."  

Individual Terms Sample