Here is a list of things to consider when making the decision of choosing a lawyer for a family law case.
- Shop around! The first lawyer you speak with might impress you, but in order to ensure that they will be the best fit, talk to a few more people before making the decision.
- Don't choose your lawyer based upon gender. I have never seen, heard, or experienced a case where the gender of the attorney made any difference in the case.
- Ask questions to the potential lawyer. For example, ask them about their expertise and if they have handled cases similar to yours in the past and the results. The lawyer's answers to your questions should make logical sense to you…if not, move on.
- Remember, in a family law case, you may be working with this person for a few months or more than a year…so you need to feel comfortable with them. Remember, the person that can do the job isn't always the person you want to be best friends with. But on the other hand, make sure you are comfortable with this person representing you.
- Ask yourself if this lawyer's personal style will allow you two to maintain a positive business relationship. How does this lawyer handle phone calls, emails, or their ability to explain things in a manner that you can understand?
- Discuss fees with the lawyer. What is the retainer fee? What is their hourly fee? How much will you be expected to pay in advance? Make it clear that you will be reviewing all of the expenses.
- Don't be alarmed by a lawyer's hourly rate. In a single phone call, some lawyers are able to accomplish things it takes others weeks to complete. That is why it is important to consider how long it has taken them to bring similar cases to conclusion in the past and weigh that heavily.
- Board Certification is a factor in making your decision, but it shouldn't be the sole or major factor. There are attorneys who have tried more cases and have more experience that the board certified attorney who simple have chosen not to become board certified.
- Ask the attorney about the number of hours they spend a year in continuing legal education classes. Because of the ever evolving area of family law, a good family law attorney attends 2-5 conferences a year (depending on what's happening with the state legislature) to keep up with the changes in the law and learn more effective ways to address their client's legal issues. Additionally, good attorneys always far exceed the minimum state requirements to maintain a license to practice law. One such indicator is the State Bar College, which requires twice as many hours to maintain membership as the State Bar requires.
There are a number of important sources to consider consulting when choosing a layer. In addition to speaking directly with lawyer, talk to local judges and courthouse employees familiar with this person and their professional skills and ethics. If possible, speak with former clients about how this lawyer handled their case. Most importantly, consult with someone in the business – another lawyer – who knows people who specialize in the area you're looking for representation in.