The Definitive Family Law Attorney Checklist
Finding the perfect family law attorney is essential, whether you’re about to go through a divorce or looking for legal advice regarding an adoption. The right family attorney can make the difference in a positive settlement, or a lifetime of problems.
Choosing a lawyer is also something that should take time. Don’t simply call and hire the first attorney that pops up after a quick Google search. You want a compassionate and competent lawyer in your corner when it comes to anything family related.
The following definitive family law attorney checklist can help you in your search for the perfect lawyer. Let’s dive in!
Trust and Communication is Important
When it comes to finding the perfect family attorney, you want one that you trust and can communicate with. A lot of skeletons come out of the closet during a family legal proceeding, especially in a divorce, so you want a lawyer you can work with.
You’ll also need an attorney that you understand as well. Be sure that the comfort level is there, and you can understand what they say and how they explain important aspects of a case makes sense to you.
One common mistake is basing a legal counsel decision based on a website. Sure, pictures of them with their family and past clients are helpful, but like anything, personal preference comes into play.
The perfect lawyer for your friend may not be the best choice for you. Do they have deep experience in cases similar to yours? Can they answer questions in a clear and concise way that you understand? Are they always available? These are all important questions to ask potential attorneys.
Treat Finding a Lawyer Like a Job Interview
Family legal situations are often emotional, and can have a big impact on everyone involved, both short-term and long. This makes finding the perfect family law attorney essential, so treat it like your interviewing potential job candidates. Your future depends on it.
Once you have a robust list of potential family lawyers, call and schedule consultations. These first-time consultations are usually free and serve as a opportunity to connect with your future lawyer.
“Before you hire a family law attorney, take the time to interview him or her thoroughly to make sure your working styles and goals for the case are similar,” Jennifer Wolf of Live About said.
Ask important questions, like past cases like yours, outcomes of those cases, cost of services, upfront fees, and other key questions. These questions will help you feel a possible connection with the attorney. If you’re not feeling it, move on.
Going the Law Firm Route
You may be thinking about going the law firm route, and that’s not an issue. Law firms normally have a vast network of experience they can draw from for your specific family law attorney needs. However, be sure to narrow in on a single lawyer, not just the firm as a whole.
Normally, you’ll meet with a lawyer or two during the first consultation. However, don’t assume they will be handling your case. They may be simply getting the general idea of your legal needs, and then passing it along to another lawyer.
This is also not an issue, but be sure to only work with one lawyer specifically, especially if you have a good connection with him or her. However, sometimes a partner will pass down your case to new lawyer or associate, and that’s not good. In fact, if this happens, it may be best to seek out another attorney.
Don’t Settle for Anything But the Best
If you need a family law attorney, get one. Never settle for a lawyer that is handling family law, contract law, elder law, etc., your future depends on it. For instance, if you needed your car fixed, would you hire a motorcycle mechanic who occasionally works on cars?
Probably not, and the same goes for your family legal case. “If you do your homework, you can hire the lawyer who has the experience and expertise to help you with your problem,” according to the American Bar Association.
No the Financial Cost Upfront
Lawyers are not cheap, and their time can add up really fast, especially if your family legal case has a lot of twists and turns. Before hiring a lawyer, be sure to get a good idea of how much their counsel will cost you.
Did you know that the average divorce lawyer fee is roughly $250 per hour? That can really put a dent in your savings.
Be very upfront with your potential family lawyer and let them know just how much money you have. They may be willing to work with you. Some attorneys also have flat fees. This is good, since you can get an exact figure before proceeding.
Understand the Different Outcomes, and How the Attorney Feels About Them
Family legal issues often go one of two ways, settlement or litigation. The majority of family law cases actually get settled out of court. However, some do go to litigation, or other legal avenues. Be sure to gage how your family lawyer feels about these different types of case outcomes.
For example, a family attorney in Denver is more transparent about legal outcomes, “Whether you and your partner decide to resolve issues through a settlement agreement, mediation, or through litigation, we can give you family law advice.”
But not all lawyers and law firms are as transparent, or as open to different types of settlements. Some may be all about the win in litigation, while some may be all about settling out of court to avoid further legal proceedings.
The Closing Argument
There are a number of things to consider when choosing a family legal attorney. From research and friend recommendations to interviews and cost, the process can be stressful and challenging. Let the above serve as a way to mitigate that stress, allowing you to find the perfect lawyer with chemistry.