Selecting the Right Divorce Lawyer
Selecting the right divorce lawyer to represent you is a very important decision. The following are a few criteria for use in helping to decide on the right attorney.
Any divorce lawyer you consider should have significant experience handling cases in your geographical area. A divorce lawyer who is experienced in your county will be familiar with the tendencies of that county’s judges and will be able to use this knowledge to your advantage. Additionally, that lawyer should practice primarily (preferably, exclusively) as a family law attorney. Frequently people will hire someone whose practice is mostly in another area of the law, thinking that any lawyer will do. However, family law is extremely specialized and in most states the statutes are modified frequently. It is a field that requires a constant study and a certain skill set in order to best represent a client.
Past Client Testimonials
Probably the best way to determine which lawyer is right for your is to hear what past clients have to say about the lawyer. While divorce can often be unpleasant, some divorce attorneys have more success at satisfying their clients. If you do not personally know someone who has been a client of a particular lawyer, you should consider asking for client testimonials. A good lawyer should have at least a few former clients who are willing to vouch for him or her.
One of the most common complaints made by clients who become dissatisfied with their divorce attorney is that they were unable to communicate with the lawyer. It is very important that your divorce lawyer or someone on the staff be accessible and prompt in responding to your phone calls, emails, and requests for meetings. While you can ask about the office policy, this is another area where you can best evaluate by hearing what past clients have to say.
It is extremely important that you have a frank discussion with the lawyer about fees and what you can expect. Typically, the divorce lawyer will require the payment of a substantial retainer up front, against which that lawyer’s hourly rate and expenses will be charged. You should find out what the hourly rate is, how much the retainer will be, whether any portion of the retainer is refundable if it is not fully used, and how frequently you will receive invoices detailing the hourly charges and expenses. You should also find out how detailed and clear the invoices will be. Again, this is an area where you can get excellent information from past clients.
Are You Comfortable with the Lawyer?
While all the other issues are very important, there is one ultimate question you should ask yourself before hiring your divorce lawyer: are you comfortable with that lawyer and are you confident in his or her abilities? If the answer is anything other than a resounding “yes, absolutely” you should keep looking. Your case is too important to hire someone who does not inspire your confidence.
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