Your attorney will play a key role in your divorce. You need to feel comfortable working with him or her. The following questions can help identify the correct attorney to partner with you during this trying time.
Use these questions during your initial consultation with attorneys. Do not be intimidated or embarrassed to ask tough questions; they are used to it. You need to understand your legal rights and choose the lawyer best suited to your needs.
Attorney Experience and Practice
How long have you been practicing law in this state?
How long have you been practicing family law?
Are you a Certified Family Law Specialist?
If so, by whom are you certified?
What percentage of your practice is devoted to family law?
How many family law clients or cases do you currently have?
Do you handle all aspects of divorce including child custody issues and disputes?
What percentage of your divorce cases go to trial?
Are you familiar with the family court judges in our city? If so, please explain.
Are you willing to go to court or trial if necessary?
Are you willing to settle cases or do you always go to trial?
What percentage of divorce cases do you settle?
What percentage of your cases settle before trial? During trial?
Legal Fees and Payments
What is your hourly rate?
Do have separate rates for face-to-face, phone, and email?
Are there different rates for associates, assistance, and paralegals?
What is your retainer fee?
Do you accept credit cards for monthly payments?
How much do you estimate my divorce will/could cost?
Will my spouse be required to pay any of my legal fees
Can I withdraw money from a joint account to pay my divorce retainer?
What happens if my retainer fee runs out before my divorce is finished?
What happens if I can not afford to pay you completely during the divorce process?
One of the best ways to help you in your attorney selection process is to make yourself a list. I like to use a spreadsheet. Track names, numbers, email addresses, and any other information which can help you in your decision making process. I also suggest creating a ranking scale for each item you are comparing.
Of course after all your hard work in identifying the correct attorney, you then have to deal with a good working relationship as well. If you are not happy with your attorney or their staff, speak up. They are charging you a ton of money so make sure they are working for it. Do not just sit back and think they will do everything for you. Educate yourself and ask questions. You are the client. They are working for you. Remember that because there will come a time when you may need to remind them of the same.