How to Choose a Divorce Attorney
As part of our never-ending mission to simplify the legal process and improve the attorney – client relationship, we regularly review search engine data to help us learn which issues are most important and how we can help. Recently we noticed several variations of the same basic inquiry, how to choose a divorce attorney. This, of course, is understandable because it is an important choice that will have a profound impact on the outcome of your divorce and the condition of your bank account once the divorce is finally resolved.
Research Divorce Attorneys
Before the consultation, research your options. Read client reviews, peer endorsements, and visit third-party rating systems like Avvo. Pay careful attention to reviews that include specific information regarding the most important information: results, attorney responsiveness, fees, billing practices, and professionalism.
Schedule a Consultation
Initial consultation policies vary by law firm. Some divorce attorneys require you to schedule a consultation several days or even weeks in advance. Some attorneys also charge you a fee for the initial consultation. Our consultations are always free and our divorce attorneys try to conduct every consultation the same day. Divorce is stressful and waiting around for an attorney to return your call can intensify the anxiety.
Before the consultation, you should prepare a list of questions for the attorneys. Though this is a perfect time to ask questions about Arizona divorce or family law relevant to your case, you also want to ask the attorney questions about his or her professional background, accomplishments, experience, and strengths and weaknesses. Ask the attorney to describe a particularly challenging case. Ask how many cases similar to yours that he or she has handled, but keep in mind that past results do not predict future success. Do not be afraid to challenge a divorce lawyer’s expertise. Ask for specific statutes or other authority that could decide your case. If the attorney does not know or hesitates, it may not be a good fit. You want expertise. You should not have to pay for an attorney to become competent.
Request a Writing Sample
You divorce attorney’s writing ability is an oft-neglected aspect of representation. Many of the important issues in your divorce may be decided primarily based on the quality of your attorney’s written argument. Unfortunately, not every divorce attorney possesses quality writing skills or the attention to detail your divorce deserves. Ask for a recent writing sample; preferably a persuasive pleading where you can evaluate the attorney’s ability to convincingly present his or her client’s facts. If possible, ask for a writing sample from a case with similar facts or similar issues to yours. Because if you are not impressed with the quality of your divorce attorney’s argument, the judge probably won’t be impressed.
Discuss the Firm’s Fees and Billing Policies
Next, you should ask the attorney how much your divorce is expected to cost. Most hourly divorce attorneys will squirm and offer endless excuses to avoid answering this question. Most commonly, you will receive a rehearsed answer like, “divorces have so many variables, it is impossible to predict the cost.” This is simply untrue and offered only so that the firm’s outrageous fees do not discourage potential clients before the contract is signed. Look, experienced attorneys should be able to reasonably anticipate the work required to complete a particular case and firmly quote the expected cost. You should also request a copy of the law firm’s fee agreement. Ask questions about its billing policies, e.g. Are there minimum billing amounts for certain tasks? How much does the firm charge for its staff or administrative time? (We do not bill for this). What about incidental expenses? Photocopies? Postage? Depositions? Does the divorce attorney anticipate retention of any expert witnesses? What are their fees?
Interview at Least One Other Law Firm
Our firm encourages everyone to take advantage of multiple free consultations with different divorce attorneys. This helps you compare the attorneys directly and may create a useful baseline by which you can more objectively measure quality and aptitude. It also will help you identify different communication styles and policies that will be really important throughout your case. You do not want to hire an attorney who takes several days to return your messages.
Hire the Best Attorney
Select the best attorney based on all of the information you obtain. Don’t simply hire the cheapest attorney unless he or she is independently excellent. Financial savings are important but not at the greater expense to the outcome of your divorce. Fortunately, you don’t have to compromise quality to save thousands of dollars. Call our divorce attorneys and we’ll prove it.