Choosing the “Best” Family Lawyer for Your Case
Deciding on which family law attorney to hire for your family-related matter can be a very difficult thing. The attorney you ultimately decide on becomes a close partner throughout your journey together. They may potentially know and/or have access to certain important and sometimes confidential information about your family. It is, therefore, very important that whoever you decide on to fill this role is someone that you are comfortable with and that you can trust completely.
Here are some tips to help you in your search for a family attorney that you are both comfortable with and that you can trust. And just as importantly, someone who is good at what they do.
Find an attorney you can work with
First Impressions matter. But they are not the be-all and end-all of it. It is perhaps human nature and good business sense to always want to make a good first impression, However, people often end up not being who they initially present themselves as being. This is why we say that first impressions should and do not always last longer.
Some attorneys also like to ‘flaunt’ their achievements, academic qualifications, awards, and other such things. While some of these things are good to have, they can sometimes be superficial things that will have little bearing on certain aspects of the job you are looking to have them do. Specifically, referring to the somewhat close or personal relationship that they will have with you and your family.
This is why it is sometimes just as important that the lawyer you are considering hiring not only has a good intelligence quotient (IQ) but also a great EQ (emotional quotient) and Moral Intelligence and personal integrity. They should also have a pleasing personality that you feel you can get along with.
Also, your lawyer should be your partner. They should be able to think within and outside the court to make the right decisions for you.
Interview prospects with your needs in mind
Intelligence does not necessarily translate to success. The internet has made it quite easy to find any kind of lawyer you are looking for at the click of a button. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a small business attorney or a personal injury lawyer. But this almost limitless choice also comes with its challenges like what factors or characteristics to use in deciding which family lawyer to settle with from the large pool that you will usually get from an internet search.
In addition to any other set of criteria that you might personally have, some of the things that you can take into consideration in trying to narrow your search for the “right” candidate include things like do they specialize in the specific practice area that concerns you, will you be working directly with a (senior) lawyer from the firm or will you often be dealing with an associate, etc.
Regarding the issue of specializing, while there are usually some jack-of-all-trade lawyers, and there is nothing really wrong with this, some things that should maybe raise a red flag when you find a lawyer that claims to specialize in a broad range of practice areas, sometimes as many as 10 areas, is that this broad range of ‘specialty’ might mean that they do not necessarily specialize in the area of family law that you are more concerned about. In other words, they practice in various areas of law but which of them do they specialize in, or are most adept at?
You want to know this because if you interview a lawyer who for whatever reason spends most of their time practicing as an auto accident attorney, and now they suddenly need to switch to family law, then they might not be as in-tune with the goings-on in the family law space. Such a situation might not be ideal for you because the lawyer may not have spent a considerable amount of time immersing in matters of family law to allow him or her properly represent you.
Do Lower retainers mean poor services?
Not necessarily. While money is often a factor in people’s ability or otherwise to retain a lawyer, you will often find people settling on a lawyer solely because of financial considerations. The good thing about lawyers who have lower rates than their peers in the same field is that these lower rates do not necessarily mean they provide lower quality services. It simply means the attorney has decided to charge a lower rate than the next person. In the same way that the same item in one supermarket will usually have a different price point in another supermarket. Despite being the exact same product.
Ask for recommendations
An old adage advises us to learn from other peoples’ mistakes instead of making them ourselves. That advice can go both ways from a positive or negative point of view. Before you hire a family lawyer, it is probably a good idea to find out what experiences other people have had in using his or her services. Have they been overwhelmingly positive or negative? If it is the latter, then in all probability you will want to avoid making the same “mistake” that some of those people might feel that they made.
When looking to work with a family lawyer for whatever situation or scenario you are facing, whether it is a divorce, child custody battle or other situations, it is often advisable to ensure that you are hiring a lawyer, not a law firm. Here’s what we mean:
The most important relationship in a legal case is not between the law firm and client, but between the attorney and you (the client.) All communication should be addressed by a designated person (your lawyer), your case should be managed by him/her and your questions and requests resolved by him/her. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Oftentimes you will find that a client will be attended to by a ‘junior’ associate. Sometimes this is probably inevitable, but when it begins to happen too frequently, then it will likely be a problem.
So before you sign any retainer, you should preferably get assurances on who the point attorney will be that you will be dealing with so that you will be in the right if this doesn’t happen and you decide to “bring the roof down.”
Having said that, in addition to the recommendations that you may receive about the lawyer or law firm, some important questions that you might want to ask and get answers to are given below. This is perhaps especially so if you have a specific family matter that you are seeking legal help for.
Here are few questions you should ask your prospective attorney:
- What are the possible outcomes of my case?
- Do we have a timeline for the resolution?
- How do you work with your clients?
- Do you have a legal team?
- Who is on your team?
- Who will be handling my requests and updates?
- How available will you be?
- What are the major problems you see in my case?
Their answers to these questions should give you an idea of who you’re working with. If you’re not satisfied, you should move onto the next interviewee until you find the best family lawyer for your case.