Finding a good divorce lawyer is a very difficult task for anyone who decides to move forward with a divorce can make. There are so many different lawyers out there, and a lot of times people do not realize that they might not have chosen the right divorce lawyer until after they have invested thousands of dollars in that lawyer and months into their case. Many times, clients find out they have chosen the wrong divorce lawyer only after that lawyer has dug them into a hole they cannot get out of. There are things people can do to try to figure out whether the lawyer they meet is the right lawyer for their case. Here are a few things people should consider when looking for a divorce lawyer:
1. How did you find this lawyer? Many times, a lawyer who has been referred by a friend or family lawyer is a good person to talk to. That person, who you trust, has already had an experience with that lawyer and it probably was a good one if they recommend that lawyer to you. One of the things you should ask though if someone is recommending a lawyer to you is what kind of case did that lawyer handle? If the lawyer was their personal injury lawyer, but doesn’t really handle divorces, that lawyer may not be the right fit for you. Also, if their case was a relatively simple case where the parties agreed, but you have a potentially nasty custody fight ahead of you, you may want to be more careful in the lawyer you pick. Lastly, if you find that lawyer in a directory, yellow pages, or internet, you probably want to do your research to see what other people say about that lawyer.
2. Does this lawyer’s personality and style match what you want out of your case? There are different lawyers for different situations. Some lawyers are a little more easy going, more willing to try to find a middle ground to settle your case. Other lawyers are complete bulldogs and sometimes are so abrasive and aggressive that your case cannot settle while that lawyer is representing you. Before you meet with the lawyer, you need to determine what it is that you want out of your divorce. If you are a man and want to have custody of your kids, or you know that your ex is going to get nasty and need someone who is able to hit right back, you probably will need a more aggressive attorney. When you meet with a lawyer, ask them what their plan of attack is on your case and how that lawyer will attempt to get what you want. If you do not like what they have to say, or think it is too aggressive or not aggressive enough, let that lawyer know. If the lawyer isn’t willing or able to change their strategy to fit what you want, that lawyer is probably not the best attorney for you.
3. How is the lawyer in the courtroom? There are certain lawyers that like to settle, and do not really try cases. When you meet the lawyer, ask them about how often they try a case, whether it is a hearing or trial. Ask them about their last hearing and when it was and what it was about. Ask what the results were at the hearing. Many times, lawyer’s who are not afraid to go to trial for their clients have a reputation as a trial attorney, which many times means that people are willing to settle for better terms.
4. Make sure you fully understand your contract and the lawyer’s billing and payment procedures. What is the lawyer’s hourly rate? What increments does the lawyer bill in? How does the lawyer accept payments? The lawyer you meet should be very up front about his or her billing and billing procedure. The contract that you will sign should be in specific detail about how you are billed. Most lawyers are not going to be able to tell you exactly how much a specific case will cost, but you should ask questions to the attorney about what they approximate your total bill to be. Be very careful with lawyers that charge either flat fees for contested cases or charge extremely low retainers. Many times these lawyers do a large amount of work up front, but then as time goes by, their involvement in your case tapers off. Also, many lawyers will take your initial retainer, run up your bill really quick where you owe more than what you previously paid, and then withdraw quickly from your case without doing any real litigation work on your case. Also make sure you get information about invoicing and how and when you receive bills. You don’t want to hire a lawyer who doesn’t bill you, then six months later sends you an invoice saying you owe thousands of dollars and if you do not pay, they will withdraw. Also make sure the lawyer is up front with you about his or her fees. Get the full picture of what it is going to cost you. A lot of times clients will hire the cheapest lawyer they find, only to find out at the end, that lawyer cost them so much more than the attorney that charged a higher initial retainer.
5. What is that lawyer’s experience with the Court you are in? Some judge’s hate certain lawyers, and some love certain lawyers. If you have a case in a smaller county, a lot of times it is better to get a lawyer from that county than a lawyer who a friend of mine who practices in Beeville Texas affectionately nicknamed “shiny shoe lawyers” or as most people hear them called “big city lawyers.” Its called getting “hometowned.” While in certain counties surrounding large metropolitan areas such as Houston don’t really have that issue, there are counties which you should have a lawyer who practices in that county. A lawyer who knows the local rules extremely well or knows the judge extremely well might get you a better result than a lawyer from out of the county.
Finding the right divorce lawyer for you is a difficult task. When you meet with a lawyer, come prepared in making your decision. Write out questions you may have to that lawyer, so that way you do not miss or forget anything. Remember, you are the customer. The lawyer is meeting with you to try to get your business. At the same time, you are entrusting an extremely important part of your life to this one person. Make sure you make that decision informed and prepared.