For many, hiring a divorce attorney is their introduction to the legal system. Maybe you have hired an attorney to handle the purchase of your home, but that transaction Your and your family’s future is at risk. You don’t want to hire any divorce lawyer; you want to hire the best divorce attorney to represent you.
The selection of a divorce attorney can be one of the most important decisions you will make. If you hire an attorney who is overly aggressive, litigious, or unwilling to explore a settlement, your divorce will be needlessly expensive. If you retain a lawyer that is inexperienced, you may give up valuable rights.
Ideally, you should hire an attorney who is practical, creative, experienced, and pragmatic. You want an attorney who is not only capable of being your fierce advocate but who can be a dealmaker who is ready, willing, and able to settle the case.
So how do you find this ideal attorney- here are seven tips on how to hire the best divorce attorney:
1. Get a Referral.
Talk to friends and family 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 divorce attorneys is that they do not return telephone calls. In my office, all calls and emails are answered within hours.
2. Go Online Examine the Attorney’s Website and Read Attorney Reviews
Even if you get a referral from friends and family, look at attorney reviews on Goggle and AVVO. See what other clients have said about the attorney. Go to the attorney’s website. How does the attorney present himself?
3. Consult with a Lawyer
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.
Be willing to pay for a consultation. If the attorney has so much free time that he/she can spend an hour or more to meet with you and every potential client who calls, how busy can that lawyer be?
4. Does the Attorney Have the Necessary Experience and Competence?
Use the consultation to learn about the attorney, his or her experience. 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? Do not hire an acquaintance who specializes in some other field. You need a lawyer who regularly works in family law and understands the issues of equitable distribution and child custody.
5. Is the divorce attorney a good fit?
This person is going to be your advocate, your guide, advisor, and sounding board during an incredibly stressful time in your life. Are you comfortable with this person?
6. Does the Divorce Attorney’s Style Match Your Needs?
All divorce attorneys hear some client question during at the initial consultation:
“Are you a fighter?” “I need a bulldog “ or “I need someone who is collaborative. Can you work with my ex’s attorney?”
An effective attorney needs to be practical, pragmatic, creative, pro-active and re-active. Seemingly contradictory, it is possible to be both firm, but conciliatory, and aggressive, yet fair. Like a good boxer, a matrimonial attorney has to know how to bob and weave to avoid the punishing blows, to jab to wear down the opposition, and willing and capable of throwing a knock out punch.
A matrimonial case is not one dimensional- the issues are financial, legal, emotional, and psychological. The fight, sometime, may appear to be about money, but it may really be about rejection or control instead. Other times, the dispute may be just about money. A good attorney will discern which the case is, and his adjust strategy accordingly to achieve a successful and cost-effective result.
Not every divorce and every issue within the divorce needs to be fully litigated. Most cases settle. Even in those cases that cannot be settled, it is rare that every issue needs to be exhaustively litigated. Hiring the bulldog attorney- the super aggressive lawyer who promises to leave no stone unturned so that you will “win” the case and who promises to punish your spouse- is a recipe for disaster. The bulldog attorney will needlessly litigate everything.
The only one who will benefit from this hire is the attorney. He will bill you aggressively and end up with the lion’s share of the marital assets.
On the other hand, you do not want to retain the overly conciliatory attorney either. The right attorney is pragmatic-flexible enough to make a deal, but firm enough to protect your interests.
7. Hire the Attorney Not the Firm
If you are going to hire a large law firm to represent you, make sure you know which lawyers will be working on your case. The senior lawyer you thought you hired will pass most of the real work in your case on to a less experienced associate. Make sure you understand who will be working on your case on a daily basis.
Consider all of these factors as part of your hiring process, and you should be able to retain the best divorce lawyer.
Please contact us or telephone us directly at 212-683-9551 if we can be of assistance to you as part of your divorce.