How to Choose a Family Lawyer

In order to end a marriage, it’s often necessary to enter a new relationship, the attorney-client relationship.  Although an attorney-client relationship will be less emotional, shorter, and less significant than your marriage, it is crucial to enter your attorney-client relationship carefully and thoughtfully.

When selecting a family lawyer, you must do your research!  First, research prospective attorneys’ reputations among former clients and among other attorneys.  Ask your friends which divorce attorney they used and how they would evaluate their attorney.  Ask your attorney friends for their opinions on local family lawyers. 

One of the biggest complaints about divorce lawyers is the legal fees.  Before retaining an attorney, ask about their billing structure.  Do they bill hourly or on a flat fee basis?  If hourly, what is their hourly rate?  What types of things can you expect to be billed for?  Will anyone else be assisting with different hourly rates?  Once you retain counsel, it is crucial that you check your bill each month and sort out ambiguities immediately.  If you wait until the case is over, you won’t remember half of your concerns.

Divorce lawyers have different styles.  I, for example, am settlement and mediation oriented, whereas other attorneys are known to be litigation sharks.  Know what you want.  Then find the attorney who has that style.  If you are adamant on trial without attempting settlement, I’m not your lawyer.  If you want to settle your divorce exclusively out of court, there are other attorneys who will not be the right fit for you.

Ask your prospective attorneys about whether they will allow you to discharge them if you feel the attorney-client relationship isn’t working.  Some lawyers work on a limited assistance basis, so it is easy to end the attorney-client relationship.  Other attorneys are committed to resolving divorces from start to end, and don’t like their clients to end representation before the conclusion.  Know what you’re getting into!