Finding a Good Fit

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Things to Consider When Hiring a Divorce Attorney

For those of you from the cell phone/internet generation, we used to have physical phone books with white and yellow pages. The yellow pages were business listings. Jokes were made about how many of those yellow pages were filled with divorce attorney listings. With so many options, it can be difficult to know what you should be looking for in an attorney. What will make an attorney in those pages, or online, stand out to you as a good fit for your case? The following is a brief list of some items to keep in mind as you search for the right fit in a divorce attorney.

  1. Cost: Divorce is expensive. The cost factor is crucial to consider because most attorneys can only accomplish goals for you by billing their hours. Their hours are billed at a certain hourly rate usually outlined in their fee agreement. You should take a hard look at your financial situation, come to a rough estimate of how much you can afford in legal fees, and assume the high end of hours it will take your attorney to work towards your goals. You may need to speak to friends or family about assistance with your legal fees. Have a plan in place. Such information is usually outlined in the fee agreement along with the hourly rate. Let the attorney know up front about your financial resources so there are no surprises for either of you if continued payments become an issue. It is important that you and your attorney have realistic expectations about the cost of your divorce case.
  1. Compatibility: Put simply, you have to have compatibility with your prospective attorney. You have to be comfortable with your attorney and confident he or she has your best interests in mind. This factor is difficult to assess early in the attorney-client relationship because of limited interaction with the attorney. Some points of reference to consider are how well they maintain eye contact, whether they actively listen to you, and how you feel after leaving the consultation. If your gut is having significant doubts about any of these points early on in your interactions, then it is unlikely this particular attorney is a good fit for you. You need to be comfortable with and confident in your attorney throughout the divorce process.
  1. Communication: This factor may also be difficult to assess early on in the attorney-client relationship. However, a breakdown in communication is often one of the top reasons attorneys withdraw from cases – or are fired by their client – before completion of the case. Both you and the prospective attorney should be clear with each other about what your expectations are for communication, and then hold yourselves to the standards you set for responding to voicemails, emails, settlement proposals, court dates, etc. Failure to communicate effectively with your attorney is a surefire way to terminate your relationship before the case is concluded.
  1. Experience: All attorneys have to start somewhere, but chances are you will want an attorney experienced with legal issues similar to those in your case. If your case involves high-conflict custody issues, you will want an attorney who has worked previously in such cases. If your case involves a large estate or complex division of assets, you will want an attorney who has litigated and/or settled large marital estate divisions and is comfortable with numbers and finance. Most attorneys in law firms work as a team, so as long as one of them has the requisite skill and experience for your case, then you should rest easy that you have the right team.

Finding a good fit in an attorney is essential to having a successful attorney-client relationship. These are just some of the many criteria to consider as you search out the best fit for you. For further assistance and advice with this and other issues in your case, please contact the experienced team of family law professionals at Slowiaczek Albers & Whelan, PC, LLO to schedule your initial consultation.

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