Make an Informed Decision When Retaining a Divorce Lawyer
Finding the right family law attorney (or divorce lawyer) is a process that many people are not entirely comfortable with. People often don't know what qualifications to look for. Often the only information people have to go on is a recommendation from a friend, or listings in a phone book. But retaining legal representation for your divorce is a process that warrants some extra due diligence on your part. Here are some tips to help you find the best divorce attorney for you:
Create a list:
You could open the phone book to 'divorce lawyers' and just point to see which you see first. But there is a better way. If you feel comfortable asking friends to recommend a divorce lawyer that may be a good place to start. You can also check one of several reputable family law yellow pages on the internet. Those directories will help you find qualified divorce lawyers in your area. Make sure you only consider family law attorneys who practice in the county where you live. The details of family law can vary significantly from one county to another.
Narrow the list:
Whittle your list into a "short list" of lawyers who are actually worth interviewing.
- Look for lawyers who have devoted their entire practice to the area of family law. Several states offer certifications in family law legal specialization.
- Ensure that the divorce attorneys on your list are in good standing with your state bar.
- Also, while there is no single label that universally identifies good divorce lawyers, a generally respected lebel is the Martindale Hubbell peer review rating. Attorneys only qualify for this rating after they have been admitted to the bar for five years or more.
Once you have narrowed the field to a manageable number of candidates, schedule in-person meetings with each of the divorce lawyers on your list.
- Be aware of the responsiveness of each firm or attorney to your meeting request. You want to be sure that the family law attorney you retain is able to devote an adequate amount of time to your case; if it takes 3 business days or more to get a call back it may be an indication that they are too busy to give your case the attention it deserves.
- When you do meet with your short-list candidates, ask about their experience with cases like yours. For example, if you expect a contentious custody battle, ask them to talk about their experience with such cases.
- Realize that the attorney you interview may not be the one who is actually assigned to your case. Ask which associate will be working on your case, and meet that individual as well. He or she will likely be your day-to-day point of contact and it is important that you feel comfortable working with him/her.
If it's worth hiring a divorce lawyer for your case, it's worth this extra homework up front. Take the time to create a qualified list of candidates and have a better chance of finding the best divorce attorney for you.