Too many people don’t know what to look for when they are considering which divorce lawyer to hire. Most people who are interviewing family law attorneys are in a very stressful situation, typically one that they have not been in before. Making an important decision during a particularly stressful time can be a recipe for disaster.
DivorceZone published an article that can be helpful to people facing this situation. This article points out that not all lawyers are created equal, and I would add that not every lawyer is "right" for every case. It is more important in family law cases than other cases that the attorney and the client have a good, working relationship and understand each other. This article lists the following important points to consider when hiring a divorce lawyer:
- Specialization. The reality is that the law is extremely complicated and no lawyer, not even a so-called “general practitioner” can really master more than one or two main areas of law. Divorce law itself grows more and more complicated each year. You should choose a lawyer who practices primarily or exclusively in the area of divorce and family law.
- Knowledge. Given the high hourly rate you’ll be paying your divorce lawyer, you don’t want to have to pay to give your lawyer a legal education. You want a lawyer with substantial knowledge in divorce and family law issues, who already knows the law and how it applies to your situation.
- Experience. There are a lot of complexities to divorce law that you can’t simply learn from a book. For instance, often being able to determine the correct range of alimony that’s appropriate in your case is simply the result of seeing many cases with similar facts. While every divorce case has its unique twists, you will come out ahead if your lawyer has substantial experience.
- Good Communication. The biggest beef clients have with divorce lawyers is that their lawyer does not return their telephone calls, emails or other communications promptly. You should find out what a prospective divorce lawyer’s office policy on this. Also, see how long it takes for your prospective lawyer to return your initial call – this will give you a good idea as to the level of service you can expect.
- Local Knowledge. Part of the job of a divorce lawyer is to know the attitudes of the local judges and how best to tailor your case for them. As well, even if you never set foot inside a courtroom, it is helpful if the lawyer has experience dealing with your spouse’s divorce lawyer.
- Time. Does the divorce lawyer limit his practice to just a few select cases so that he can concentrate on his clients and give them good service, or do they take all clients who walk through their doors? The reality is that the amount of work to resolve successfully the issues arising from a divorce can be quite substantial, and your lawyer will need the time to deal with this.
- Fit. It’s important that you and your divorce lawyer get along well. This doesn’t mean that you have to be good buddies with your divorce lawyer and want to invite them to dinner. However, you’ll be going through some of the most difficult experiences in your life with this person. You’ll be revealing some of the most intimate details of your personal and financial situation to this person. Your relationship with this person will last quite a long time. So, it’s important that you’re comfortable with your divorce lawyer.
- Compassion. It’s important that your divorce lawyer be understanding of what you’re going through. Are you just a file number, or does your lawyer really care who you are and what you want?
- Independent. Ultimately, your divorce lawyer’s job is to fight for you and your rights. However, many lawyers have political ambitions or care more about getting along with other lawyers than giving zealous representation. You want an independent lawyer so that your needs are not sacrificed so that your lawyer can avoid irritating a colleague.
- Plan of Action. Is your divorce lawyer able to articulate a plan of action that they are going to take to resolve your case? If not, you will find that your case just seems to amble in no particular direction, raising your legal fees without accomplishing much.