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Choosing an Attorney
Divorces are wrought with complex legal, financial and emotional issues that vary from case to case. Thus, choosing the attorney who is best suited for your particular case is very important. Selecting the best attorney for your case may seem overwhelming at first; but, if you keep the following themes in mind, your search will likely be more fruitful: 1) choose an experienced and reputable attorney; and, 2) choose an attorney with whom you are compatible.
The Process of Selecting a Divorce Lawyer
First, pick an attorney who is experienced in the practice of family law and who has a good reputation, both among clients as well as other professionals. One of the best ways to begin your search for an attorney is to do some research on websites such as LinkedIn and Avvo.com. These websites will not only provide you with the contact and background information of several potential attorneys but also offer reviews posted by former clients or business associates. It is often essential for divorce attorneys to work with or consult other professionals during the divorce process. Additionally, consulting friends or professional acquaintances is also a great way to ensure that the attorney you choose is experienced and will be committed to your case.
Once you have identified several candidates, place an initial call to their office to speak with that attorney about your case. This is a good opportunity to ask about the scope of the attorney’s practice, the attorney’s experience and fee structures. Some questions that you may consider asking during this initial telephone call include: Does the attorney practice solely family law? What is the firm’s reputation? How long has this attorney practiced in family law? What fee structure does the attorney offer (look at both the retainer amount and the hourly fee)? Does the attorney have experience with the specific issues of your case, like child custody or the division of family owned businesses? This initial telephone interview is a good way to determine if you would like to schedule a face to face consultation with the attorney.
Once you have determined the experience level of your prospective attorney, your second consideration should be whether the attorney is compatible with you, your needs and desires regarding your case, and your economics. During the initial consultation, you should discuss the facts of your case and inform the attorney what route you wish to take regarding your divorce. Remember, this is your divorce. It is important to hire an attorney who has your interest at heart and who is willing to work with you to receive the outcome you desire. If you feel pressured or if you do not feel comfortable discussing your case with an attorney, for any reason, choose another attorney.
Make sure the attorney is compatible with you, your needs and desires regarding your case, and your economics.
It is imperative to feel comfortable with the attorney that you ultimately choose because divorces often involve sensitive matters, whether they are regarding family finances, children, or intimate relations. Thus, you must be comfortable sharing intimate information with your attorney. Being completely open and honest with your attorney is important, because your attorney may only achieve the best results for you if he or she is made fully aware of all of the facts concerning your case. If you fail to disclose something to your attorney, it may decrease your attorney’s effectiveness, lead them to provide bad advice and ultimately harm your case.
It is also important to choose an attorney who shares your vision and philosophy regarding the case. If it is your desire to handle the case as amicably as possible, do not choose an attorney who has a reputation for being litigious. Conversely, if it is your desire to seek a trial in your case, do not choose an attorney who has no trial experience or who is unwilling to share their trial history with you.
After you identify an attorney with experience and with whom you feel comfortable, it is also important to ensure that you hire an attorney who is the most conducive to your economic situation. Often times a divorce involves severing your financial ties with your spouse, which may lead to a decreased standard of living for both spouses involved. Therefore, it is essential to make a decision regarding which attorney you will choose based upon your particular financial situation. Although it is common for more seasoned and experienced attorneys to have higher rates than relatively inexperienced attorneys, several experienced attorneys offer various forms of fee structures that may make utilizing their services more economical.