By: John Whitbeck
Qualities to Look for In A Divorce/Family Lawyer
What qualities should you be looking for in a divorce/family lawyer?
Who you select as your attorney can have a profound impact on your case. Here are a few qualities you need in an attorney for any divorce or family law case:
There is no substitute for experience. It’s that simple. Lawyers can be naturally talented but the more experience a lawyer has the better. Here are some examples. First, more experienced lawyers will have seen similar issues to yours in other cases and they can draw from that experience to help you in your case. Second, more experienced lawyers will have established reputations with local judges and attorneys which can make a difference in a case. Third, more experienced attorneys oftentimes know the answers to legal questions without a lot of research and/or preparation. This can help you save on costs over the course of your case. Finally, more experienced lawyers will many times be better equipped to deal with cases that have particularly sensitive or complex issues. I’ve been practicing divorce and family law for over 20 years, and I can tell you, experience matters in getting the best outcome you can in your case.
The biggest complaint lawyers get from clients is responsiveness. Divorce and family law attorneys are busy and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with all the calls and emails from clients. But when you are going through a divorce or family dispute, the client needs to know their communications will be returned and their questions answered. Clients should ask questions of their lawyer like how long before you return phone calls? What is your turnaround time for responding to emails? Your lawyer should be able to give you a good idea of what to expect. Divorce and family law is not a 9-5 job. It requires attention sometimes outside normal work hours. Emergencies happen and a lawyer must be able to react quickly. Our firm takes care of responsiveness by making sure each case has multiple lawyers assigned to it as well as paralegal support. We also have a “client services” team that is there to work with clients from the start of their case to the finish. I also make sure my clients have my direct contact line so they can get through to me without having to go through Firm staff all the time.
Respect for Your Costs
Litigation is expensive. No question. But there is a lot a lawyer can do to reduce the costs of litigation for you. First, there are many tasks in a case that can be performed by less costly associate attorneys or paralegals. If your lawyer is doing the important stuff like court appearances and strategy, there’s no reason you can’t save money with other staff doing the “grunt work.” Second, your lawyer should suggest ways you can save money. For example, a lawyer should manage how often the two of you communicate and maximize the efficiency of your contact with him/her. Third, you want an attorney who is very busy because they are not dependent on your case to pay their bills. I’m very proud of the fact that most of the time when we go to court and make a claim for attorneys’ fees, our fees are lower than our opponent’s.
There is not much that needs explaining here. You must trust your lawyer and believe they have your case handled. You must trust they know what they’re talking about when they give you legal advice. But they need to earn that trust, and lawyers that are experienced, responsive, and respect your costs are usually the kind you can trust.
Divorce and family law cases are hard enough without having problems with your lawyer. That is why it’s critically important to find the right lawyer for you in your case. Give us a call to see how we can help you with your divorce or family law case.