What to Look For in a Divorce Attorney

How do you find a divorce attorney who is right for you? It is important to interview different attorneys to make sure you find a good fit. You are about to entrust this person with one of the most important legal decisions you may face in your life; you should feel comfortable with your attorney. Read on for some things to consider. 

Does the attorney discuss the law with you in a way you can understand? As you consult with each attorney, pay attention to the way the attorney explains legal concepts to you. Does the attorney talk as though you are a courtroom audience or does the attorney make sure you understand the law? Keep in mind that the attorney’s approach during the consultation may very likely be the attorney’s approach throughout your case.

What is the attorney’s case experience? Whether you are pursuing aggressive litigation or cooperative litigation which may result in agreements and stipulations outside of court, the experience in family law is important. Ask about:

  • Education and training – Does the attorney regularly take legal education classes to keep informed of the latest trends and developments in family law?
  • Negotiation experience – is the attorney successful in reaching negotiated agreements outside of court?
  • Courtroom experience – Has the attorney regularly appeared for law and motion hearings?
  • Trial experience – In the event your case has to go to trial, does the attorney have significant trial experience?

How will you be billed? Each attorney has their own policies regarding client billing. At the outset of a case, you should understand how your legal fees will be billed. How is your trust deposit applied? Will you receive regular invoices? What is the minimum billed rate – is it 0.1 hours (six minutes), 0.25 hours (15 minutes) or more? Ask how you can keep your costs down.

Have there been any disciplinary actions taken against the attorney? California attorneys are regulated by the State Bar of California. You can review license and discipline information for every California attorney by visiting the State Bar’s website.

What is the attorney’s client communication policy? One of the most common complaints against attorneys is lack of communication or lack of timely communication. When can you expect a return telephone call from the attorney if you leave a message? Does the attorney communicate by email? What happens if the attorney is in a lengthy trial and you have a need to reach him or her? Is there a staff member who can assist you in the attorney’s absence?

Did the attorney make any guarantees about case outcome? It is risky to make promises regarding what will happen in a case. There are possibilities and probabilities, but no absolute guarantees at the outset of a case.

In addition to asking these questions, consider how the attorney makes you feel after your meeting. Do you trust that the attorney will handle your case well? Does the attorney put you at ease? If an attorney is not a good fit for you, keep interviewing until you find an attorney who is. I could make all the difference in your case.

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