How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
"I hope you don't mind, but I am interviewing two other lawyers before I decide how to proceed." "Mind?" I replied. "I applaud you!" I want a client who is well-informed and who makes a conscious and thoughtful decision about legal representation.
Selection of a legal professional who will be handling a matter that will be personal, emotional, and most likely expensive is serious business. This task should be handled from a smart consumer's perspective and not based on your best friend's idea of "lawyering up" or a family member's opinion to hire the biggest bully. There are always a few exceptions, however most of the lawyers I have worked with during my twenty years in practice truly want to resolve conflict in a peaceful, constructive, economical, and reasonable manner, with as little court intervention as possible.
As a potential client, you need to be aware that you are entering into a possibly lengthy relationship with the attorney you choose. Therefore, you should not only feel confident with the attorney's level of experience in their respective practice area and their fee structure, but you should also consider how their personality complements yours. Does the attorney listen to you attentively and provide reasoned guidance rather than vigorously agreeing with everything you say? Does the attorney caution you about the weaknesses of your positions along with recognizing the strengths of your case? Are you being educated about the law and the appropriate process options, without being talked down to? Do you feel they want to ramp up the conflict or help defuse it?
Furthermore, what is the reputation of your potential legal counsel among their professional peer groups? Are they knowledgeable and trained in conflict resolution skills and creative problem solving as opposed to being only litigious? Are they respected by their colleagues and associated professionals, do they exhibit business sense in how they run their practice, do they lead a balanced life outside of the office? Perhaps most importantly, how do you feel when you are in their presence engaging in conversation with them? If you are one who can trust your gut, this is a time to pay attention.
By far, the best way to choose an attorney is to obtain some referrals from reliable individuals and personally interview your candidates. The most unreliable method is making a selection based on phone book ads, internet lawyer review sites, or institutionalized websites. In Washington State, the state bar association is fairly restrictive about lawyer advertising and solicitation, which is why many of us have limited participation in social media or other internet related sites other than our personal websites.
Despite the media's portrayal of lawyers and big lawsuits, and 24/7 access to electronic information, which is often unmonitored and misleading, the average legal consumer typically is seeking a quiet, confidential, and efficient resolution to their dilemma without making it worse emotionally or financially. Being a smart consumer means empowering yourself with knowledge, while trusting your instincts, allowing you to trust the professional you ultimately choose.
Published on May 4, 2014