In this article, I promised that I would be sending along Four Tips to consider when deciding on the best lawyer for you. I have written about this before in other articles and in my book, Graceful Divorce Solutions, but I’m emphasizing it again because I feel it is so important.
Just as there is no “one size fits all” process choice for divorce (collaboration, mediation, litigation), there is definitely no “one size fits all” lawyer for your divorce. The lawyer you choose will depend on the process you hope to use, so that’s the decision you need to make first.
Once you have done your homework and have a picture of what is best for you and your family in terms of process, here are the Four Tips to consider when deciding on the best lawyer for you:
1. Fees. Lawyer’s fees aren’t cheap, but the hourly rate should not be the determining factor either. And a word to the wise here — a higher priced lawyer does not necessarily insure better results for you. Most lawyers fees range from $100 an hour to as much as $1,000 a hour, depending on where you live. Do some investigation in your area and determine the typical hourly rate for divorce lawyers.
2. Experience. For the best and most efficient results, find a lawyer who specializes in family law, or who at least spends the majority of his or her practice in this area. This is important because an experienced divorce lawyer will know the tendencies of the various judges and other divorce lawyers in your area. You also want someone who has a good working relationship with the judges and other lawyers. A lawyer with expertise in family law will be able to offer you clear explanations of your process choices and be able to answer your burning questions in a way that will make sense to you.
3. Referrals. This is probably the most common way clients come to me, as referrals from other clients or other professionals in the area. If you don’t know who to go to (the phone book will probably confuse you even more!), ask a friend, a co-worker, a therapist, a minister, priest, rabbi, or a financial advisor for a recommendation. Hearing what others have to say will help you decide who you would like to see for a consultation.
4. Good Fit and Accessibility Factor. Finally, and perhaps most important, is that you have a good connection with the lawyer you choose. You won’t know this until you actually have a consultation with that lawyer and have the opportunity to ask your questions and see how you feel about the responses. You should know after your consultation whether you feel like you and this lawyer will work well together. If you aren’t sure, keep looking. Whatever you do, don’t think about hiring a lawyer just because of their reputation. Always have a consultation and make sure it’s the right fit for you. Be proactive for your own case.
Remember, this relationship with your lawyer is a partnership. You are working together to achieve the best solutions for you and your family. Mutual respect, understanding, and clear communications are a must to make this a reality. And you deserve nothing less!