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Hiring the Best Divorce Or Family Law Attorney For You – Tip Number One
You have been served with a petition for dissolution of marriage, a paternity petition, or a supplemental petition for modification; or, perhaps you need to hire a lawyer to help you prepare one of them to serve on the other side; or, there are contempt and post-judgment enforcement or modification issues that need to be addressed. Either way, you understand that you need to get the right legal representation to help you. But what is the right legal representation and how do you find it?
Your search for a matrimonial and family law attorney can certainly be confusing with all the information “out there”. How do you sift through all the crap and find the person who is right for you? First, don’t open the yellow pages, and second, remember that most attorney websites are simply expanded yellow page ads.
Next, you’ll want to start gathering information. Ask family and friends for recommendations and do your own independent research. In addition to telling you what to look for, I want to help you know what to avoid. Once you have a few names of potential family law attorneys you want to gather more information about, then go to that attorney’s website.
ATTENTION: What do you see there? Do you see credit card logos on website pages? Do you see information that the lawyer or firm is willing to make a payment agreement with you? Do you see the attorney willing to give you a “free” initial consultation? CAREFUL! These are sales and marketing tactics and do not provide you with any information about the attorney’s qualifications or the quality of legal services you should expect from the Firm.
TIP NUMBER ONE:
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE TIME WITH THE LAWYER FROM THE BEGINNING
When you pick up the phone to call a lawyer’s office, you are taking the first step on what can be a long road. From the moment you call the attorney’s office, you should understand that your call is important and that the attorney and his or her staff are a team that is there to help you. Ask yourself:
* Are you satisfied with your initial contact with the firm?
* Did you have a good first impression?
* Have you been given the information you need?
* Were you given an appointment date and time immediately?
* Will you be meeting with the partner or lead attorney who will be working on your case?
One thing to be aware of, many attorneys will not offer retainer quotes over the phone. There are many reasons for this. I personally need to meet with the person, look at the dynamics of the case, ascertain the financial positions and relative needs of the parties, and then make some initial determinations. I actually have plans in my office where we will conduct an entire divorce proceeding for one low, flat fee plus the cost of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This plan is not applicable to everyone, but unless I take the time to meet with you and ascertain your particular situation, then you will never know what your options are. So don’t worry if you don’t get an immediate retainer offer during your first call with the firm.
CAUTION: If the law firm or attorney you call offers you an initial retainer that seems low, BEWARE! A law firm that is just trying to get people in the door may show you every retainer just to make it look like they are more affordable than all the other firms, the only difference is that they will quickly move on from your initial retainer and they will then ask you for more money to continue to represent you. You should seek an attorney who provides you with a realistic expectation of costs and overall fees based on your particular circumstances. The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies in this area too!
However, don’t be too surprised if the highly qualified attorney you meet with tells you that she is unable to give you an estimate of the total fees and costs you will pay in your case. This can depend on many factors, the biggest of which is the attitude that the other side will take in the litigation. Your lawyer cannot predict this. But as the case progresses and your attorney sees the type of litigation your spouse or opposing party is taking, then she should be able to provide you with some further guidance on the overall financial impact of your case.
Your initial meeting with the attorney should provide you with:
* A general understanding of the law as it applies to your case
* An initial retainer offer along with a discussion of any acceptable payment arrangements based on your circumstances
* An understanding of her experience in Matrimonial and Family Law, including how many hearings and evidentiary hearings she has conducted
* A timeline for the first three to four months of your case
* An opportunity for you to ask all your questions
* An opportunity for you to contact him to follow up on any questions you may have after the initial consultation
When you leave your initial consultation with the attorney, you should feel that you were understood, that the attorney understood what your goals were regarding your divorce or other family law matter, and that you and your questions were and will continue to be important. . important throughout the representation.
Copyright 2010 Tami L. Augen
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