Thursday, January 16, 2014



What to look for when hiring a divorce attorney

1. Qualifications

Is your lawyer certified to practice law in-state. You can find out through the State Bar Association.  It also provides information as to their status as practicing attorneys.  Moreover, there are the old strand-bys, like memberships, practice history, testimonials, and, of course, word of mouth.

2. Reputation

Look at the attorney’s history.  Professional misconduct inquiries, Barred in another state and see what the local grapevine has to say: papers, Angie's list, Better Business Bureau commentary etc.

3. Experience

The last thing you need is a lawyer who is new to this line of work.  Yes, we all have to learn, but not on your dime. You are looking for the attorney having more than a passing acquaintance with the family law judges in your area if you are seeking litigation, does your attorney command respect in court? If your preferred method of resolution is negotiation, you want a skilled advocate capable of steering the compromise to your liking.

4. Skill in Practicing Family Law

How many other areas of law does your attorney practice in? Is the experience predominantly in family law?

5. Erudition

This is the level of verbal skill and power of expression your attorney has.  Skill in the law is rarely any good unless it is accompanied by clarity and gravitas when speaking.  Does the attorney annunciate the issues in the way you would wish, covering the salient points without superfluous dialogue?  If your attorney cannot captivate and keep the interest of the court you are unlikely to win your argument.

6. Integrity and Ethics

Have you confidence in your attorney or is there a history of speaking out of turn in other clients cases? An attorney that plays fast and loose with the privacy of another client cannot be entrusted with yours.  Is your attorney making guarantees and predictions about the outcome of your case? An ethical attorney will not raise your expectations to keep your case; rather they will strive to give you an understanding of realistic expectations in your case, good and bad.

7. Children

You need to be very sure that your attorney understands and shares the concern and wishes you have in respect to children.  Your attorney must see your children as you do.  Mistakes and bad impressions in this respect are difficult to draw back from.

8. Informative

Your lawyer should help you reach your personal divorce goals and understand how the process is going without you needing to ask.  Your attorney must keep you informed of all your options? Does your attorney make give you confidence that he has told you everything you need to know?

9. Diligence

Does your lawyer give you the feeling you are the only case on his mind or do you feel you are being squeezed in all the time?  Is your attorney distracted by phone calls, emails, or other people coming into their office while you're present? Are your meetings productive? Is your lawyer well-prepared and familiar with the particulars of your case? If not you are in trouble.

10. Affordability

Ensure that your lawyer knows your budget.  That being said, you get what you pay for; you should stay away for “discount” law offices – chances are that you will get “discount” representation.  Litigation can be expensive but it is better to pay for the right representation from the beginning of your case, then pay for another attorney to fix poor representation in the future.

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