The task of choosing the best divorce attorney for your needs might be daunting. Any way you look at it, divorce is a stressful situation, and you want the attorney representing you to be just the right fit. Not everyone wants the “most vicious litigator” on their side, but you do want to work with an attorney that will be persistent and thorough in your representation.
What is Your End Goal?
Clarity and specificity are your friends as you enter the process of divorce. Know what you want for the end result or be ready to address these questions in detail at the beginning. The best attorney for you will start with a consultation or interview that helps him or her fully understand your scenario, your needs, and your goals.
Clear and easy communication with your divorce attorney is critical. During your case, you will need to be able to effectively communicate your concerns and expectations and your attorney needs to be able to clearly explain things to you regarding your case and provide you with realistic expectations. If you sense that your attorney is not listening carefully to you or can’t explain things in a way you can understand, you should continue your search.
On the other hand, your attorney needs to be able to communicate with your spouse and your spouse’s attorney as well. Good communication between the two attorneys can facilitate fruitful negotiation and keep costs down. This is important when you are in a collaborative divorce process as well as when litigation is involved.
If you end up in court, your attorney also needs to be able to effectively communicate with the court and litigate passionately. This is important because you will need your attorney to represent your interests clearly and to be trusted by the court.
Look for Testimonials that Support Skill, Experience, and Results
Not every divorce attorney is skilled in both collaborative divorce and traditional divorce litigation. If you want a collaborative divorce, look specifically for evidence of skill and deep experience with collaborative divorce. Likewise for traditional divorce.
There are a wide range of issues impacted by the divorce process and your attorney must be knowledgeable and experienced enough in his or her practice to deal with the complexities of your case.
Look for evidence and when you have an initial consultation, ask specifically about experience pertaining to specific details in your situation. For example, if you are dealing with high-conflict custody, or perhaps a substantial net worth, find out if a divorce lawyer is knowledgeable in those specific areas. Check their credentials thoroughly and search for online reviews, particularly those on AVVO which will include recommendations from colleagues.
Availability and Ease of Accessing Support
When considering hiring an attorney to represent you in your divorce, look for someone who is available at the key points in your case (or who has the support available if an issue comes up while your attorney is in court on another matter or out of the office).
A good divorce lawyer should be available to respond to your questions in a timely manner or, if not available right away, give you a time frame within which to expect an answer.
You will not be your attorney’s only client, but you also don’t want to be one of a sea of clients none of whom receive adequate time or attention.
Professional Composure and Steady Under Pressure
Your attorney’s general ability to maintain composure under pressure may be difficult to ascertain. An attorney who is calm and focused with you, must also maintain self-control before the court or with your spouse’s attorney in situations that can be frustrating, aggravating or adversarial. Ideally your divorce lawyer will represent your interests strongly but will not take it personally when things do not turn out exactly as intended.
Surprises happen in divorce as in life. No one can fully anticipate what the other side or the court will do. Your attorney should maintain composure so that he or she is always representing your interests and is willing and able to adjust strategy when needed. Recommendations and referrals from colleagues in the legal community can be invaluable in this area.
Your Due Diligence in Choosing the Best Divorce Attorney for You
The best advice is to conduct research online, ask related professionals such as your financial advisor, accountant or therapist for referrals. The next step is to schedule an initial consultation. Sometimes the first phone conversation alone can help you sense mood, tone, and chemistry, but don’t leave it at that. Schedule an appointment in person and don’t be afraid to close the book and move on if you don’t see what you want to see in the total package of an attorney’s skill, experience and manner of working with you.
How to Start?
You have done much of the legwork for choosing the best divorce attorney for you and now it is ready to talk with your top candidates. I would be happy to meet with you in an initial consultation. Click here to schedule an appointment.