If you feel that a divorce is inevitable in your case, it is highly likely that you have either thought about starting, or have already started the process of finding a family law attorney to help you. Maybe you have looked on the internet for an attorney, or have asked family and friends to make a recommendation. Regardless of how you decide which attorney is ultimately right for you, the process can be rather daunting, and also, highly frustrating. That is why it is important to keep a number of things in mind when undergoing the search process. First and foremost, not every attorney advertises honestly. Meaning, even if an attorney claims to be highly qualified or experienced, that is not always the case. They could be speaking globally about their collective legal experience yet make it appear as if all of their knowledge and training is in one area of concentration. Moreover, there are some attorneys that aggressively promise results however, any ethically responsible New Jersey family law attorney knows that there is no “sure fire” way to determine what will happen in any given case. In other words, while years of experience can provide an attorney with some sense of how things may work out, it can never tell them exactly how things will eventually turn out.
In light of the above, it is important to consider the following tips to help you find an attorney that suits your needs, budget, and specific preferences:
1. Only work with a lawyer that is experienced in family law. Countless clients come to us in their initial consultation wanting to switch lawyers due to their attorney’s lack of experience. While changing attorneys early usually does not have a negative outcome on a case, waiting too long to switch attorneys can leave you with a less than desirable divorce judgment or settlement. Accordingly, it is best to hire an experienced attorney from the get go, as they know the nuances of the laws in your jurisdiction, the ins and outs of the courtroom, and the various actors involved (such as the judge and opposing counsel). This can certainly give you a leg up in your case, leading to a much more favorable outcome than had you worked with someone who has little to no family law experience.
2. Don’t get sucked in by fancy ads, empty promises, and aggressive marketing schemes. Oftentimes, the best attorneys are those who are recommended through word of mouth. Otherwise stated, they have worked hard to earn their reputation and have their experience and client testimonials to show for it.
Work with an attorney who will explain things in layman’s terms. Be sure to hire an attorney that will take the time to explain things in a clear and non-lawyerlike manner. Understanding all aspects of your case is crucial, and often makes a positive difference in one’s case.
Only hire an attorney that is forthcoming about his or her fees. During your initial consultation, the attorney you meet with should explain everything upfront about his or her fees, including whether they are hourly or through a flat fee arrangement, what the fees include, how you will be billed, etc.
Always work with an attorney that is patient, respectful and who makes you feel comfortable. Just because you meet with an attorney during an initial consultation does not mean you have to hire them. You should always be comfortable with the attorney of your choosing, so if someone gives you a “bad vibe,” or seems disinterested or too distracted to give you and your case the time it deserves, consider taking your business elsewhere.
3. Check the attorney’s disciplinary background. Checking your attorney’s background is vital, as there are some attorneys whose significant disciplinary history demonstrates that they may be less than fit to take your case. In New Jersey, every licensed attorney as well as their status (i.e., whether they are in good standing or not) is listed on the attorney index of the New Jersey Courts website. Check this site as well as conduct a search about the attorney online to see what others have to say about them.