The old saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” couldn’t be less accurate when it comes to choosing the family lawyer who will represent you in one of the most significant life experience you will pass through. No, in this case it is exactly “what you know” that makes the difference. True, you may know a great divorce lawyer, but that’s not the kind of knowledge most people need when they embark on a search for someone to guide them through the minefield of divorce.
Here are several tips to help you choose your partner for this journey:
It’s a Job Interview. In real-estate it’s always location, location, location but in hiring divorce counsel it’s interview, interview, interview. Would you buy a car after only looking at one model on one dealer’s lot? Probably not. Would you buy a house without deciding beforehand how many rooms you need, bathrooms, what kind of kitchen you want, etc.? I don’t think so. The same is true with a lawyer. Remember, this is a relationship in every sense of the word. This person will share your sorrow, your dreams, know your finances, and perhaps even spend time with you in court. You have to like this person, trust their abilities, rely on their judgement for monumental decisions.
How many attorneys should you interview? As many as it takes to find someone that you like, trust, and can afford. That might mean 5 interviews, or 20, you just never know. But something you can rely on is your gut. Your gut will tell you if you’re likely to get along with this person. Look for other signals: Are they genuine? Do they look you in the eyes? Do they answer your questions directly or do they avoid honest answers?
As I mentioned, it’s important to trust your gut, but facts are important too. Was the attorney (or their staff) responsive to you when you called to set up an appointment. How were you treated when you arrived? Are you paying for an initial consult or is the attorney offering a few minutes for free to review your case. What does their office look like? Is it clean and organised or a cluttered mess? I’ve known brilliant attorneys who are a complete disaster when it comes to organisation, but chances are you’d rather be with an lawyer who is organised and efficient rather than the opposite.