5 Tips to finding the right Family Lawyer for You
The early phases of separation or divorce can be the most stressful. Often the strongest impulse at this stage is to try and get it all sorted and done with. As a result many people end up making poorly thought out decisions, including choosing the wrong lawyer.
Here are 5 tips to help you avoid making the wrong choice when hiring a family lawyer:
TIP 1: Do your initial research online.
Make sure that the lawyer’s online profile demonstrates the qualities that you are looking for. It will become evident from a firm’s website or blog the kind of approach they take to family law disputes.
What is your initial impression of the firm? Are they more conciliatory or do they display a more aggressive and adversarial style? To they explore collaborative settlement options or do they head straight for the doors of the Family Law Courts?
TIP 2: A great website does not always mean a great lawyer.
Background checking online is a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Whilst a Google search might help you find the lawyers with the best websites, it will not necessarily turn up lawyers that offer the best service, skills or fee estimates.
It’s important to follow up any online searches with feedback from trusted sources. Asking your financial adviser, therapist, colleagues or lawyers in other practice areas will confirm your initial impressions and arm you with first-hand information that will guide your decision-making.
TIP 3: Understand how you will be charged.
Once you’ve narrowed down your top three choices, you need to decide whether you can afford to pay for your chosen lawyer. To make this decision, you need to know how your lawyer intends to charge you. Asking some of the following questions may give you the answer:
– Does the firm offer fixed fees or is the service time-costed?
– If it is the latter, do they use the standard 6-minute billing increments or something more cost effective?
– Are any discounts available for early payments of invoices?
– What is their policy regarding trust money or deposits?
TIP 4: Know who your lawyer will be.
In many of the larger firms your initial consultation will often be with a partner or senior lawyer, however, after coming on board, your case may be assigned to a more junior lawyer. This can be an effective way of keeping down your legal costs, but it is nevertheless important for you to know who your lawyer is so that you can build a rapport and establish a relationship of trust
If, on the other hand, the firm’s managing partner will be running your case, you should think about how available he or she will be to answer your questions, reply to emails and respond to your legal needs as they arise.
TIP 5: Did your lawyer tell you something you didn’t want to hear?
This is actually a good sign. It points to honesty and integrity in the lawyer. In divorce cases there will almost always be something that won’t go the way you want it to. Setting achievable goals rather than unrealistic promises of success will make the process more constructive and help to keep down your legal costs.
Many firms will offer you a free initial consultation. Use it. This is one of the most effective ways available to get a good feel for the firm, their approach and level of service. Trust your instincts – if the chemistry just doesn’t seem to be there, it’s probably a good idea to keep looking.