Choosing An Attorney
What Makes A Good Family Law Attorney?
Many times people choose family law attorneys like they choose their automobiles. As long as it gets me there, that’s all that matters. Not much thought may be given to other factors such as safety records, repair history or miles per gallon. It’s not a smart method to buying a car.
Choosing a family law attorney needs even more thoughtful consideration than purchasing a vehicle. Thousands perhaps even millions of dollars could be at stake one day along with property such as investments, houses, cars and jewelry.
Bottom line: Your choice of a family law attorney is a critical decision. You and your family need to be represented by a credible and experienced lawyer who has only your legal needs in mind.
So, here are six characteristics of a good family law attorney:
- Trustworthy and Confidential: Your attorney needs to be completely trustworthy. They should keep all of your finances and other confidential information within the confines of your discussions with them and not share them with anyone you have not authorized. If you hear about your situation from the clerk at the grocery store or from a colleague at work, you have the wrong attorney.
- Communicate Promptly: Attorneys have busy schedules like anyone else. However, when they take days or even weeks to return a call or email, then you have the wrong attorney. Delays can be costly so they need to respond promptly and courteously to your communication.
- Work within your family budget: Most attorneys appreciate discussing their fees and costs before agreeing to represent you. They also don’t want to drain your checking account and leave you high and dry without a resolution. Get this ironed out right away, and they will work within your reasonable budgetary requirements.
- Experience and Expertise: Every attorney is at a different level of experience in dealing with family law. Some are quick learners and have success early. However, most attorneys need experience negotiating, litigating and settling cases. They also need to become experts in family law. Yes, these types cost more but they will represent you more thoroughly when the time comes. You take chances by choosing the green horn fresh out of law school. They may be cheaper, but they are a big risk. Always choose the lawyer with experience.
- They represent you not the law firm: The most important relationship is the attorney with their client, not the law firm with the client. Look for building a relationship with the attorney not their law firm. The firm is their employer and while important, it is a business. Your #1 Question is this: “Will you be handling my case?” If they pass your case on to another associate with the firm, you might want to reconsider that firm.
- Likeability: This seems like a minor point but we cannot underscore it enough, actually. Find an attorney you personally like. He or she should be easy to get along with and talk to both on the phone and in person. Your ability to talk openly with this attorney and share your confidential information is crucial. If your attorney is unorganized, surly, abrasive and distracted or otherwise difficult, then it may not work out to your advantage. You have to ask yourself: “Will this work out well for me when litigation or settlement comes around?” If you have doubts, look for a friendlier attorney.
As you have seen, choosing an experienced and thoughtful family law attorney is a decision to be taken quite seriously. Take some time and choose the best attorney for your family law needs. You will not regret it.