Why should you use a lawyer in Estonian residence permit proceedings?
The process of applying for a residence permit, extending it or applying for a long-term visa can be handled by the applicant without external help. Sometimes your employer has HR people that can help. In many cases we would suggest having legal representation can be useful and for the following reasons and based on 5+ years of real life experience:
The Police and Border Guard have 1 mission - to find a reason to deny the application. Having a legal consultant means that the potential issues can be looked at already before the application and the issues addressed correctly during the proceedings. They can be very intimidating with their questions but most times it is just a matter of calculated, concrete and to-the-point answers.
Although information can be submitted in English, most of the case-handlers answer in cryptic and robot-like Estonian and it is our understanding that they also prefer answers in Estonian.
Most case-handlers are old-school people who do not always understand the modern work life trends - for example having a home office or working remotely still seems bewildering.
The Police and Border Guard are not intimidated by the prospect of going to court but they do not want that. By pointing out the legal flaws can sometimes make them more careful. If they see they can "run over you" without a threat of being taken to court they will most likely do it. Very often if they find reasons for refusal they will just suggest to "withdraw the application" so they would not have to write a motivated decision.
Sometimes in the proceedings it is useful to find other options in co-operation with the Police - they do not offer them so they need to be explored on your own initiative.
Even if you go about the process on your own we recommend to stay respectful, forget the emotions and be formal. They can be intimidating in their style but mostly still fair.