The reality is that good divorce lawyers are a dime a dozen. Picking a good lawyer is generally not hard, as most (not all) divorce lawyers are competent and know what they are doing. That said, however, not every divorce lawyer will be right for every case. While a particular divorce lawyer may generally be good and have a strong reputation, that lawyer may not always be a good choice for your case.
The purpose of this article is to provide some basic advice about how to approach the divorce attorney shopping process. Many attorneys can be found easily online by searching on the internet. This is one very efficient way to find a large number of attorneys; however, due to the very personal relationship that attorneys tend to have with their clients, it is often important to shop for an attorney in person as well. While no a definitive guide to finding a divorce attorney could ever exist due to the personal nature of the search, these five pieces of advice should help guide you in selecting the right attorney for you.
- Make Sure You Get An Attorney that Specializes in Family Law
While many people believe that finding the best attorney in town to represent them in their divorce is the way to go, that is a bad way to start the search for a divorce attorney. Attorneys tend to specialize in different areas ranging from criminal law and family law to complex tax and business transaction issues. The best attorney in the world may be a tax attorney, and you do not want a tax attorney to resolve anything other than the financial aspects of your divorce.
Also know that many attorneys are generalists who specialize in bringing cases to court. While there are lawyers who specialize exclusively in family and divorce law, hiring a generalist is not a bad decision either. If you do decide to hire a generalist, however, you should first ask the lawyer how many family and divorce cases he or she handles on a regular basis. Make sure that you find a generalist that spends at least 25%-35% of their time working on divorces.
- Check Out the Attorney’s Reputation
For your divorce lawsuit, you will want to hire a good attorney. Fortunately, many resources exist that can help you determine the quality of an attorney. First, there are numerous legal publications that honor successful attorneys. Some quick online investigation about the attorney will likely uncover any honors or awards he or she has won. Second, you can learn a lot from an attorney’s website. Generally, a law firm’s website will advertise its accomplishments, and you can learn about the firm online.
You should also check to make sure that your attorney does not have a bad reputation. Each state’s bar association publishes a list of attorney reprimands and malpractice citations. If you find an attorney on the reprimand list, that does not inherently mean the attorney is always a bad attorney, but it should encourage you to research the issue further before deciding to hire that lawyer.
Finally, ask around and take recommendations. It is likely that you know at least one person that has been involved in a recent divorce. Ask him or her whether the attorneys involved in that lawsuit would be worth your consideration. Good attorneys often advertise only on a word-of-mouth basis rather than on billboards or busses. Finding the right attorney for you may be as simple as asking your neighbor or co-worker who they know.
- Consider Their Law Firm’s Customer Service Amenities
When hiring a lawyer, you are also hiring their law firm. Ask yourself whether the firm’s staff and offices meet with your expectations. If the attorney doing business out of a comfortable office space or a hole in the wall? Were the staff friendly and courteous? Were you offered a drink while you waited? These various issues may not affect your quality of legal representation, but they will affect your overall experience and are therefore almost as important.
In general, you should be looking for a law firm that will meet all of your needs, not just your legal requirements. That said, do not tire yourself out searching for perfection. No law firm is perfect, and you will always be able to find something that you do not like about a law firm. The goal is to make sure that the firm meets your needs.
- Know When the Price Is Right
Naturally, different lawyers at different law firms charge different rates for their services. Depending on the size of the law firm, the lawyers the firm employs, and the geographic location of the law firm, a divorce attorney will likely cost anywhere from $150-$300 per hour. Rates within that spectrum are normally well worth the price, particularly if the alternative is having no lawyer at all to help you.
Before you purchase the services of an attorney, however, make sure that you are okay with the price. Price should not be everything when shopping for a divorce attorney but is important to you and your financial stability. Given the financial realities of balancing a checkbook, you need to be comfortable with the rates you are paying.
Do not assume that a more expensive attorney is a better attorney for your case, however. Often, expensive attorneys are expensive because of the prestige of their law practice, but that prestige may not come from the firm’s family law practice. Make sure that you get what you pay for, and if you are going to pay above average prices for your divorce attorney, make sure the attorney runs an above average divorce practice.
- Find an Attorney that You Like
Finally, make sure you like your lawyer. You certainly do not have to love your lawyer or want the lawyer to become your best friend, but you should be able to have a cordial working relationship. Many divorces take months to litigate to conclusion, and so you should be certain that the attorney you choose will be worth it for the long haul.