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How To Choose the Best Divorce Attorney For Your Case

How To Choose the Best Divorce Attorney For Your Case

Never Hire an Attorney Without Doing Your Research

Deciding which attorney you should use in your divorce is a difficult decision.  I would encourage each and every person hiring a divorce or family law attorney to look carefully at several factors before making their decision. The decision of who to hire could greatly affect the outcome of your case. The right choice can make your overall journey through the divorce process more productive.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • How many years of experience does the attorney have?
  • Does the attorney primarily practice family law?
  • How easily accessible is the attorney?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of how much the attorney is going to charge you?
  • Did a prior client refer you to that attorney?
  • Are you comfortable with that lawyer?

Now that you have the right questions in mind, you’re ready to consider the answers. In my experience, the following answers can empower you to choose the best attorney for your case.

How many years of experience does the attorney have? Does the attorney primarily practice family law?

Many clients come to me and hire my services after already hiring a previous attorney.  They often tell me that they found out that the attorney they initially hired specialized in personal injury or criminal defense. The attorney chose to take on their family law case, but without fully understanding how to assist them.

Choosing an attorney who is well versed in the issues surrounding divorce and family law is critical to the quality of legal service that you receive.  This can be easily ascertained by simply asking the questions “how many years has the attorney practiced family law and how many cases have they handled?”  If the answer is “I only handled my sister’s divorce” than you should probably think long and hard about being the practice case for an attorney who has little to no experience.

I know many lawyers who are great personal injury lawyers or criminal defense lawyers, but who know very little about what goes into helping someone through the divorce process.  Many people think that any attorney can help them with a divorce. The truth is that there are many issues surrounding a divorce that require an experienced lawyer with a specific knowledge of family law.

How easily accessible is the attorney?

Prior to my becoming a lawyer, my wife and I hired a lawyer to assist us in our own personal legal matter.  Once we retained the lawyer we were never able to get in touch with him again. It seemed like the only people we were allowed to speak with were the lawyer’s support staff.

Hiring a lawyer who is easy to contact is very important to the success of the divorce process.  Make sure that you have all of the lawyer’s contact information and clarify what type of communication will be allowed once you hire the lawyer. I currently give out my cell phone number for emergencies. It’s important for me to keep an open line of communication with all my clients.

How much is the lawyer going to charge?

It is essential that you make sure you have a signed contract with the person you choose to be your lawyer.  Make certain that the contract clarifies who will be responsible for the filing fees, costs associated with the case and both the lawyer’s and support staff’s hourly rates.  If your lawyer offers a flat fee service make sure that the contract clearly states what that flat fee will or will not cover. Double-check on whether or not supplemental services like filing fees and additional costs are included, or if they are an additional sum that you must plan for.

Understand that if you cannot continue to pay your lawyer than most likely that lawyer will withdraw from your case.  It is a horrible experience to get 75% of the way through your case only to have the lawyer withdraw. Don’t waste time and money choosing an attorney that you can’t afford.

Did a prior client refer you to that lawyer?

It has been my experience that I get the best services when a friend or colleague of mine tells me how good a particular product or service was when they used it.  Referrals are a wonderful way to find out about a lawyer, especially if your friend was a former client of the attorney. Ask your friends, “What was it like to work with that lawyer? Did the lawyer treat you with respect?  Did the lawyer return your phone calls? Did you have to pay more than the contract stated?  What was the outcome of your case?” Trust friends and relatives to put you on the right track.

Are you comfortable with the lawyer?

This is a tough one because being comfortable with a lawyer is one thing, but finding a lawyer that you’re comfortable with and meets all of the above requirements is the hard part. You don’t have to be best friends with the lawyer, but understanding where the lawyer is coming from and being at ease with him or her can make a big difference in your client experience.

If you don’t feel comfortable with a specific lawyer, keep looking. In the past, I have met potential clients who I don’t feel that I can work well with. I tell the potential client that I think it would be in their best interest for them to hire another lawyer. I refer them to a colleague who I believe would be a better fit. Don’t be uncomfortable if you choose to interview more than one attorney. Feel confident about finding an experienced lawyer who will best represent your interests.

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