Choosing your lawyer is probably the most important decision you will make in your divorce process. So make sure you find somebody who will smooth the road ahead, not make it more rough than it already is. Here are some tips.
1. Schedule a consultation with the attorney. First impressions are important when choosing a person who will be representing you in very personal matters. Though this initial meeting may not tell you all you need to know about a lawyer, it will tell you if you are comfortable with the person and if they appear self-assured and well-versed in the law. You can also find out how long they have been practicing and how many divorce cases they have handled.
2. Contact the state or local bar association. Most states have online sites where you can check on attorneys, including their disciplinary records.
3. If possible, get a divorce lawyer with lots of experience in both litigation and negotiation. He or she will be able to anticipate pitfalls that may come up in your case and avoid them. You also want a lawyer who will be completely honest with you about your case. A lawyer who tries to sell you on how much he can win for you will only set you up for disappointment, but one who lets you know the strengths and weaknesses of your case up-front will be far more trustworthy. You also should make sure that your lawyer is accessible: you should be able to reach him or her in an emergency, and he or she must answer phone calls and e-mails.
4. Also make sure to ask prospective lawyers about their fees, their estimation of the total cost and time spent on your case, what percentage of their cases go to trial. . Ask if they’ve handled cases like yours before; if so, it’s an advantage.
Keep in mind that you’re the one who’s employing the lawyer, not the other way around. You’re the boss: it’s your final decision who will work for you, so choose carefully.