How to Select an Attorney
Selecting an attorney for any legal proceeding is a very important and personal matter, but particularly so in a divorce or family law case. The outcome of a family law case is critical to your life and future. Taking the time and making the effort to select the right attorney at the outset can save you time, money and stress down the line.
There are many ways to select an attorney, but word-of-mouth is one of the best, most reliable ways to find a good attorney. Ask friends, family members, co-workers, and other acquaintances if they know of or have used a good family law attorney. You can also contact the local bar association and ask for the names of attorneys practicing family law in your area. You may wish to ask an attorney in another area of the law for a referral to a good family lawyer, since he/she may have a more objective, professional view point.
Because working on a divorce or family law case is such a personal matter, finding the attorney who is the right "fit" with you and your needs is key. We recommend that you take the time to meet with several attorneys before selecting the one that is right for you.
Following are some key considerations when determining which lawyer you will work with on your divorce or family law case:
Experience – Attorneys specialize in different areas of the law. Make sure that your attorney practices exclusively and has experience in the area of law you need – whether it's divorce, child custody, adoption, or domestic abuse law.
Reputation – Your attorney should be a member in good standing of the local bar association. In addition, ask around about your attorney's reputation in the community. Is he/she known for being ethical, honest, hardworking, and competent?
Integrity – You should only work with a lawyer who is honest and ethical. It may be tempting to find an attorney who is willing to "fight dirty" on your behalf, but if an attorney is willing to be unethical in some situations, why should you be confident that he/she is dealing honestly with you?
One way to find out about your attorney's professional integrity is to check his/her Martindale-Hubbell rating. Martindale-Hubbell ratings are peer ratings of an attorney's legal ability and professional ethics, and are a widely used and respected rating system within the legal community. Click here to learn more about Martindale-Hubbell ratings.
Communication – Put simply, you should be able to understand your attorney. A good attorney should be able to clearly communicate details of your case and what actions are being taken and why. If you cannot understand your attorney, you will feel even more frustrated and overwhelmed by your case and the legal process.
Availability – Will you be able to reach your attorney and set up meetings within a reasonable time frame? Remember, attorneys are busy people, so it is inevitable that you will spend some time dealing with paralegals and administrative assistants. However, there should always be someone available to answer your questions and you should always be able to set up appointments with your attorney to discuss details of your case.
Personal Style – Everyone has unique personality traits, communication styles, and preferences. You will like some attorneys and not others. One attorney may sound great "on paper" but may not "click" with you in person. You will spend a lot of time and confide details of your personal life to your attorney. Trusting and feeling comfortable with your attorney will make the legal process go more smoothly. That's why it is important to meet with several attorneys before selecting the one that is right for you.
Fees – It is important to ask your attorney in advance how your legal fees are determined. You should know your attorney's hourly rate and what activities you will be charged for so there are no surprises when you get the bill. Remember, a cheaper hourly rate doesn't mean the cheapest attorney or the best deal. It is important to look at a combination of factors, including experience, communication, integrity, and fees when deciding on an attorney.
Selecting an attorney for a divorce or family law case is a very important and personal matter. Please review the information on our website to learn more about our firm and contact us to find out how we can help you with your family law needs.