HOW TO CHOOSE AN ATTORNEY
When facing the reality of a divorce most people realize that they will need an attorney to navigate the process. The dilemma they have is choosing which attorney is best for them. The relationship between a client and an attorney in litigated matters is a very personal relationship and during the months and sometimes years of advocacy there will be a vast amount of information shared and many expectations created. Because of this, it is essential that you trust and feel comfortable with the person you hire to guide and represent you through this process. There are several factors you should consider.
In this age of mass marketing and manipulations of social media, the single best commodity an attorney always has and still possesses is his or her reputation. There are more attorneys in today’s market place than ever before but there is a reason that some thrive while others flounder and this is reputation. You can only abuse the public and misrepresent yourself for a moment before the public begins to recognize this. The reputation of an attorney is essential, check the comments of past clients, speak to past clients and check the credentials with the bar.
The relationship between attorney and client is very personal so it is important that you feel comfortable with the person you hire. When meeting with an attorney how do you feel comfortable with this person? Often I hear clients tell me of an attorney they met who talked poorly of other attorneys or bragged about their connections with the courts, my suggestion is run out of that office as quickly as possible. Think of how it made you feel when attempting to hire someone to help you with your intimate and serious problems, and they merely disparage the last attorney you spoke with or brag about how connected they are. Too often struggling attorneys put the sales pitch on and neglect to simply listen and focus on the individual in front of them and the solution to their problems. Trust your instincts and if you do not like the person in front of you leave.
How knowledgeable are they about your matter and how the process will be applied to your particular situation? All too often attorneys dabble in sectors of law in which they know very little, especially family law. Because of this people find themselves in situations that are not beneficial and the attorney does not have the experience or knowledge base to properly guide them through the process. Ask questions and get the answers you need. Listen to the attorney you meet and make certain that their knowledge base is sound. Too often I have people come to my office with advice that would be detrimental to their situation. Remember there are lawyers and there are lawyers.
This is the one issue that causes the potential client the most concern, and understandably so. Many people do not realize how expensive a matter such as a divorce can be. They are emotionally distraught they are scared and they need help. Be honest with the attorney regarding your expectations and desired results and be honest with your ability to pay and the budget you have to pay. Some clients are simply impressed with the view from their attorney’s office and pay whatever he demands, which is usually ten times what any matter is worth. Some clients can only afford a very small fee and are frustrated when they feel they are not being represented. It is essential that you deal with the financial reality of this representation because when you do no pay most attorneys will withdraw from the matter and you may find yourself without representation after paying thousands of dollars. My office works on flat rates which eliminate all of these issues. Both parties understand what they will receive, the cost and there are not endless invoices from the office, which creates a more honest and open relationship. Choose what method works best for you and your budget, and beware of an attorney that disparages another; they should be able to explain the pricing and billing options clearly and without the theater of a sales pitch involving disparaging others.
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