Updated: January 22, 2015
Choosing your lawyer is an important element of any family law or divorce. When you need to hire a lawyer you may not know where to start.
When you need to hire a lawyer or law firm, it is important to know why you need your lawyer. Do you need a lawyer for a divorce, child custody issue, child support question or for another family law issue? If so, you need a lawyer who focuses on family law. Most lawyers focus on one primary area and may have related areas that they practice in as well. For example, an attorney who focuses on family law may also practice probate law. Search for a lawyer who meets your needs.
I suggest that you do some research before you call any lawyer’s office. Decide what and how much legal assistance you need so that you can talk with the lawyer about your situation. Think about what methods are available to pay for your attorney and be realistic about your budget. Talk with your friends about their experiences and recommendation, and look at some online resources including the lawyer’s website, facebook page and other web resources. If you have a list of lawyers that look like good options at that point, narrow the list to 3 to call first. Then, place a call to each of the offices and see what happens – you will probably find that at least one is a possibility and maybe all three are a possibility for you. Then, make a decision to set an appointment with one or meet with several to find one that fits. It is important to find a lawyer that fits your personality and the needs of your case.
Ask about Options
While you are visiting with the lawyer ask questions about the things that are important to you and important to know about your case, your lawyer and your lawyer’s office. You should receive information about how your fee is calculated – is your matter a fixed fee agreement, a ‘retainer’ agreement or another method? The method of fee determination should be clear in your fee agreement. And, your fee agreement should always be a written agreement, and you should receive a copy of it for your records.
Law Office Policies
While you are meeting with your new lawyer, make sure you ask about the office policies for communication, returning or refunding fees, methods of communication, and your expectations. Do you like email or phone calls? If you prefer email during the day, you will want to see how the lawyer handles email. If you prefer phone calls find out how quickly you can anticipate hearing from the lawyer for a return call. Do you want hard copies of documents or only pdf files? Do you want lots of details or the big picture? If you know how the lawyer and the office prefer to work you will know how your case may proceed working with that lawyer.
At the end of the day, you may end up hiring the first one you met with, but you will have made that choice knowing your options.
Note: This was originally published in March 30, 2012 and has been totally updated and revamped for January, 2015.