Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Choosing a Family Law Attorney

It used to be that people found their family law attorney almost exclusively through a personal reference--the attorney name they got from their friend, neighbor, co-worker. Some might use the phone book or the name from an ad on the bus bench, but in my years of practice, most referals have come from people who knew of me. However, with the advent of the internet, it has become extremely common for people to search for their attorney on the Web. Either way, what do you look for and how do you know if the attorney is right for you?
* Comfort Level
I always tell people who call for a consult that choosing a family law attorney is like choosing a personal physician or therapist. You need to feel very comfortable with the attorney. You should feel as though you can easily share your feelings. The attorney is going to delve into personal issues with you just as a doctor or counselor would and if you are not comfortable with the attorney, talking to the attorney about the very personal issues causing your family disputes is going to be very, very hard.
* Experience
You need to know that the attorney you hire knows how to do the work necessary. Family law is a diverse and detailed area of law. I suggest choosing an lawyer who's primary practice is family law as this will let you know that the attorney spends the majority of their time involved in family law matters.
People asking for a family lawyer often say that they want a real tough litigator or for an attorney who is a "bulldog" or a "shark". Many think that this kind of extreme aggressiveness is a preferable characteristic to have in their attorney. While this style of practice may have it's place in certain types of litigation, in family law matters I believe it is important to be able to do more than aggressively litigate. Family law attorney's also need to be problem solvers and solution makers. Families in dispute will likely continue to fall into dispute unless they obtain skills to resolve conflict. Family lawyers need to help their client's be able to avoid constant litigation while their children are minors. I believe attorney's should also be able to help parties find current resolutions to their family law disputes and also look to the future with clear and specific methods to approach dispute resolution in the future. When evaluating an attorney's style, you should ask yourself what you need to achieve and the tenor in which you want to achieve it. How do you want to approach your family law dispute?
Try to speak to at least two attorney's before making your choice. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make sure that you are comfortable and it is the right fit!