Today, we are discussing particular factors to evaluate when searching for a family law attorney. It is imperative that you assess an attorney during a consultation and choose an attorney who you believe to be competent, upfront, goal oriented, and, above all, a person you feel comfortable working with. Every case is unique, so too are attorneys. All have different litigation styles, for instance, some attorneys always begin a case with an aggressive attitude, presumably to develop a legal posture. Other attorneys take a more calm approach, which may include reaching out to the other opposing attorney to begin a dialogue. Unfortunately, there are the bad apples that rarely return telephone calls, do not respond to emails, are never available to speak with their clients, or the opposing attorney. The latter attorney makes resolving a case extremely difficult, if not almost impossible, and these attorneys should be avoided.
1. Family Law: First and foremost, I suggest you seek an attorney who focuses exclusively in family law. A family law attorney will be very familiar with the process of divorce, paternity, modifications, etc. Further, the attorney understands how to best assist you in achieving your goals and will be versed in new laws, local policy and procedure..
2. Communication: A good family law attorney will keep you informed throughout the case, help you to understand the next steps in the process, and be in contact regularly. At our firm, our clients receive a copy of any and all pleadings coming into or leaving the office. These pleadings are sent to our clients along with a letter to explain the pleading and inform the client of any action they need to take at that time. Additionally, the clients of the Houser Law Firm enjoy direct access to their attorney, instead of having to constantly speak with a paralegal or other assistant. Our clients have their questions and concerns answered in a timely manner.
3. Negotiation: In most every family law case, negotiating terms of the settlement is critical. These negotiations are used to facilitate a favorable agreement between the parties. The attorney you choose should be skilled at negotiating in order to secure an outcome that is beneficial to you.
4. Judges and Magistrates: A reputable attorney will have experience practicing in front of the judges in your county. All judges are different, and bring with them subjectivity and preformed opinions. Utilizing an attorney who has experience practicing before the judges can utilize their experience to develop a legal strategy for your case.
5. Personality, work ethic and billing: It's important to know who will be working with you in your family law case. Many attorneys provide consultations. One purpose of the consultation is to decide whether you and the attorney will work well together. If the attorney you are consulting with cannot answer your questions fully, or sounds unsure of the answer, that may be an indication that the advice is not valid. Contrast that with an attorney who may not know the answer offhand, but is willing to do legal research to find the answer. An attorney who is willing to research an answer shows initiative and that the attorney is capable of performing complex research.
Last, an attorney should be completely transparent in their billing practices. At the Houser Law Firm, we send our clients monthly invoices. These invoices reflect the tasks the attorney has completed, the amount billed for each task, and the amount remaining in the client trust account once payment for services rendered have been transferred from the client trust account to the operating account.
We hope this article has been helpful guide when evaluating a potential attorney to represent you in your family law matter. If you would like to schedule a consultation to see how we can help, feel free to contact us below.