Choosing an Attorney – What You Need to Know
Do you need to select an attorney for your divorce, family law, or custody issue? Here are some steps to take to make it easier for you.
Research Type of Attorney
The first thing you need to do is to research the type of attorney you’re looking for. Just start with an ordinary web browser, type in the terms of the law that you have to deal with, such as divorce, family, or custody, and start looking through the results. You’re going to get a wealth of results, but you want to look for people who concentrate solely in the area or in the limited areas that you’re looking for. I recommend avoiding a general practice attorney or somebody who lists every area of law on their website – while they may be very capable, qualified attorneys, they’re not likely to be well versed in your specific area.
Ask for Referrals
This can be challenging because not everybody wants to go to their friends or their coworkers and explain the intimate details of their life or even to tell them that they have a legal problem of this nature. Family law issues are very sensitive. You’ll be surprised to find that there’s a great many people who have gone through the problems that you’re going through. Many of them have the issues that you’re dealing with, even if they’re not in litigation right now. You’re far from alone. I think it’s really helpful for you to speak to friends and colleagues, just to get some referrals.
You want to find referrals for people who practice in the areas of law that you want. It’s not helpful to get referrals for a real estate attorney when you need to discuss your divorce or custody case.
You want to interview several attorneys and take as much time as you can because you really want to make sure you have a good fit. I would recommend speaking with at least five attorneys if you can. Once you’ve narrowed it down to one or two, consider a follow-up conversation. You don’t want to meet with one lawyer, have a good meeting, and then sign up. You don’t want to go and if you have a bad meeting, discard that attorney. It could have been a bad day, or something wasn’t right in the meeting. You really want to feel out the nature of the relationship and want to ensure that you have a good fit.
Evaluate the Cost
You can’t judge an attorney simply by the hourly rate, but you need to judge by the overall value that you’re receiving. I generally say “cheap is not cheap.” If you’re looking for the cheapest hourly rate, you might get somebody who’s going to do the least amount of work, or the least skilled amount. depending on the nature of your case, that may not be the right fit. For some cases it is when you don’t have complex issues; but the more complex, the more you can expect to be paying for a specialty.
You want to look to see if they’re experienced enough and compassionate enough that they’re going to try to minimize your costs and minimize your litigation. I generally believe if you find an attorney who’s looking to go in, like a steamroll and fight for everything, that may feel great in the moment, but in the end, it’s probably going to be an unsuccessful approach and a very costly one. You want to look not just at the cost, but the value that you think they’re going to provide for you.
Ask About Approach
Ask the attorney what his or her approach is going to be. Along with the cost, you want to make sure that they are prepared to handle your issues, that they’ve handled these types of issues before, and that they clearly understand your issues and how your case is unique. Then, they can clearly map out what their plan is to do for you.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people that are looking to simply bring in clients and that’s understandable, as this is a business. If there is pressure to bring in clients, they may not be well prepared for your particular case. They may treat you just like another case. You want to find out your initial meeting, or within your follow-up meeting, what their actual approach will be. While they’ll never be able to give you any kind of range of success or histories, because every case is different, they can give you a general feel for if what you’re seeking is in the realm of possibilities. Are you far out in left field, or is what you’re looking for common? If there’s anything that you need to do to prepare to strengthen your case, they should be able to tell you.