Deciding on a family law attorney is no easy task. There are a number of attorneys in California who are capable of representing you properly, but unfortunately that’s too general of criteria. You need to do your homework and ask the right questions before you hire anyone. Choosing the right divorce attorney is the first essential step of the divorce process.
Ways to Find an Attorney
There are three basic ways to find appropriate attorneys with which to discuss your case. Use these methods to compile a list of attorneys worthy of discussing your initial consultation. You never want to hire an attorney without meeting with them and discussing your case first. Form a list of two or three candidates that you would like to pursue by:
- Asking family and friends for referrals for divorce lawyers with good reputations. Knowing that they have worked with an attorney in the past should be an indication that the attorney is knowledgeable and trustworthy. This is the most ideal way to find possible attorneys.
- Look in the phone book or at brochures. While you will be presented with a wide variety of choices, you should be able to hone in on one or two that you would like to learn more about.
- Search the web for attorneys in your area. A standard web search should yield a number of names to investigate further. Use the attorneys’ websites to learn more about them and their practice.
Basic Requirements for Finding a Quality Family Law Attorney
Once you find two to three attorneys who you might like to work with, call their office and ask these three questions.
- Can the attorney represent you in the California County where your divorce will take place?
- Is the attorney a board Certified Family Law Specialist, certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization?
- Does the lawyer focus on family law only?
If you are told that no one in your area meets this criterion, don’t believe them. Keep doing more research until you find the appropriate lawyer.
Scheduling a Consultation
After finding a family law attorney that may be a good fit, schedule a consultation. There is usually a fee of some kind, but there won’t be an obligation to hire the firm. Instead, you can ask about strategy and how he or she thinks your case will go in court. Before going to a consultation, reference our What to Ask a Divorce Attorney Before You Hire a Firm article.
You want to make sure you and the attorney are a good match.
When you arrive at the consultation, do your best to be professional and relaxed at the same time. You will be working with the attorney quite a bit, so be yourself. You want to make sure you and the attorney are a good match.
At the Consultation, Ask About Email Use
Ask your attorney about their email policy. Some attorneys will provide an email to an assistant, who will forward questions to the attorney as opposed to answering your questions directly. Ask how long it will take to get a response from your lawyer via email, as opposed to a phone call.
Next, find out if the lawyer you hire is equipped to send you correspondence, documents, and court orders via email. Many lawyers send you copies of such documents only via the U.S. Postal Service, which leads to several days of delay before you can receive and review important documents that you receive by mail.
Last, ask if your attorney will bill you to review emails. Expect the answer to be yes; a good lawyer’s time is valuable and they should be paid to answer your questions and respond to email. Keep in mind that in the long run you may save significant attorneyfees by getting your questions answered in a timely manner and expediting your case.