Because the client so relies on the experience, knowledge and counsel of his or her divorce attorney, the selection of an attorney can be one of most important decisions the client makes in the initial part of the case.
In a previous post, I wrote that a client should seek an attorney who is practical, creative and pragmatic. The attorney should be capable of being fierce advocate, but also a dealmaker, able and willing to settle the case.
But, how do you find such an attorney? The Blog Mom Talk offers 5 Tips to Picking a Divorce Attorney to which, I add my thoughts.
1. Get a Referral.
Talk to friends, family and other acquaintances who have been through a divorce; ask them about their attorney. Was the attorney responsive to their calls and emails? Did the attorney fully explain the process and properly manage their expectations.
The number one complaint against attorneys is that they don’t return telephone calls. In my office, all calls and emails are returned within hours.
2. How Much Will the Divorce Cost?
In most litigated or contested cases, since the attorney’s fee is time based, the ultimate cost is unpredictable. The fee is based on the amount of time that the attorney spends working on your case. The more acrimonious the divorce, the more expensive it will be. If you make unreasonable settlement demands, in all likelihood, your legal fees will be higher.
On the other hand, in cases where the parties contemplate an agreement or where the divorce will be uncontested, I have found flat fees to be an effective way to limit the costs of divorce or, at least, to make them predictable.
3. Consult with Attorneys.
Meet with prospective attorneys. Come prepared to talk about your case, your expectations and your concerns; arrive prepared with relevant information about your income, assets, liabilities and expenses. You should leave educated about your rights and with a case strategy.
You should, however, expect to pay for the consultation. After all, would you really want to be represented by the attorney who has so much free time that he can spend his day doing free consultations?
4. Experience and Competence.
Use the consultation to learn about the attorney, his or her experience. Find out what percentage of their practice is devoted to divorce and family law issues. Does that attorney have the skill set to understand your case and protect your rights?
5. Is it a good fit?
This person is going to be your advocate, your guide, advisor and friend during an incredibly stressful time in your life. Are you comfortable with this person?