The search for a family law attorney can be overwhelming. Emotions are rampant, stress is tremendous, and the stakes feel incredibly high. However, there are several things to keep in mind when looking for the right attorney to make the process more manageable.
Do seek a referral from someone you trust.
Pursuing legal counsel is a big step, and most people are fiercely protective of their privacy during this process. It is not uncommon for someone to request advice and answers to questions well before they make a decision to file for a divorce. If you are still weighing your options, you may not want family or friends to know you are meeting with a family law attorney. A better option for a referral is often a professional services provider, such as a financial advisor, accountant or therapist. Attorneys in other practice areas are also a great resource for referrals, as they can recommend competent attorneys in your area.
Do consider a firm that offers collaborative law and mediation services.
The goals of these processes is to work toward a peaceful resolution, to control the costs and emotional disruption of family law disputes. Both parties must agree to this process before it begins, and each party agrees to openly disclose all documents and relevant information.
Do ask questions about the attorney’s fee structure.
Most family law attorneys bill on an hourly basis, and they work on a retainer. This means the client pays a certain amount in advance, and the attorney bills against it monthly. The client receives a bill at the end of each month, itemizing how much an attorney has billed or “earned,” and how much of the money remains in the account “in trust.” Some contracts require the client to replenish the retainer to a set amount monthly.
It is important to ask about hourly fees, for both the attorney and support staff that may bill on the case. You will also want to know the time increments the attorney uses to bill. If the attorney bills in quarter-hour increments and they spend sixteen minutes on a project, you may be billed for a half-hour of time.
Don’t forget to ask the attorney if he or she can meet your needs.
Before meeting with a perspective attorney for the first time, you should e-mail a brief case history and questions in advance. This will expedite the initial meeting and allow you to focus on substantive issues. You will want to spend some time during the meeting outlining your reasonable case objectives. At the close of the meeting, you should ask the attorney if they can meet your stated objectives.
Don’t inquire if the attorney can fight dirty or play hardball.
In the short term, it may feel good to hear an attorney make disparaging remarks about someone you are angry with. But in the long term, those actions can do damage. You want to choose an attorney who has integrity and treats everyone involved in the case with respect.
Your selection of a family law attorney involves many important decisions, and if you keep these tips in mind, you can go about the search in the best way possible. With a combined thirty years of experience in compassionately guiding clients through a variety of family law matters, the attorneys at Raza & Jones, LLC, are here to help. For questions, or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.