How to Choose a Family Law Attorney
Family law attorneys provide services to protect families and their assets. From setting up a Trust for your estate to setting up a Living Will, these attorneys can help to ensure legal documents are in order. They can also help individuals navigate divorces and other marital disputes. While many attorneys offer these services, some are better qualified than others. Here are a few questions to ask an attorney at your initial consultation to ensure you’re choosing the best possible representative for your family’s needs:
Experience The attorney you choose needs to be experienced with whatever service you require. For example, an attorney with a specialization in divorces may not be the best choice when setting up a Living Will. Be sure to ask about specializations, and discuss some of the previous cases the lawyer has worked on. Also ask how many years the attorney has been working and what he or she is passionate about. See if you can obtain referrals so you can follow up with previous clients for more information.
Logistics Determine whether the attorney you’re speaking with will be the person handling the case. Sometimes lawyers prefer to hand their work down to juniors at the firm, so the person you consult with initially will not be the one handling your case. Determine whether you feel the attorney will give you his or her undivided attention. Attorneys with a heavy workload may not have enough time to work with you, and lawyers who do not seem invested in a case may not devote enough time to it.
Payment Be sure that you understand how your attorney will be paid before retaining him. Ask about the payment terms and fee schedule. Determine whether he will work on a retainer and what happens if that retainer is depleted. If he works on an hourly wage, determine if this is added to other flat costs. Also be sure to ask whether there is a fee for speaking with secretaries, paralegals or other members of the staff. Hiring an attorney can be expensive, but determining these costs in advance will help you budget accordingly.
Communication You need to feel comfortable with your attorney, and knowing that your questions will be responded to quickly can help put you at ease. Figure out how often the attorney plans to provide you with case updates. Also ask how you can communicate with him, and inquire about the systems in place to receive updates.
Correspondence To stay up to date with your case’s progress, be sure to obtain copies of all correspondence. Request that your lawyer copy you on all emails and other messages sent or received throughout the case. Make sure to maintain accurate records, and don’t count on the attorney to maintain all of the records for you.
Collaboration Be sure that you understand your lawyer’s goals and how they relate to your case. See if the attorney prefers to work collaboratively with the family. In most cases, attorneys prefer to encourage mediation for legal disputes, especially those happening between parents and children or other family members.
Expectations Be sure to finish your first consultation by communicating your expectations. Ask for an estimate of total costs, and determine what factors might influence that estimate. Be upfront and frank about any concerns or questions that you have. Ask what you can expect from the attorney, and also be sure you understand what the attorney expects from you.
The process of hiring an attorney is much simpler when you follow these steps. Choosing the best attorney will help you obtain what you need in any legal proceedings, and it will also reduce the amount of hassles and headaches that may arise if you were to choose an attorney that didn’t meet your needs.