The Secret to Choosing the Right Family Law Lawyer
So, you have decided to hire an attorney. Smart move. There are hundreds of attorneys out there; how do you choose? Better question: how do you select the best attorney for you? My approach is a little different. This guide will provide you with a two-step strategy for selecting the right attorney.
Step 1: Don’t hire a podiatrist to perform brain surgery
The first thing you must do is to make sure that you select an attorney who has extensive experience with your exact type of case. I like to keep things simple. Others may disagree, but my philosophy is as simple as this:
If you’re a grandparent with guardianship or visitation issues, hire an attorney who focuses on representing grandparents.
If you’re a mother in a divorce or custody case, hire an attorney who focuses on representing mothers in divorce and custody cases.
If you’re a father in a divorce of custody case, hire an attorney who does nothing but help fathers in divorce and custody cases.
Making sure the attorney has the necessary experience and time in the trenches is a must. You would not hire a podiatrist to perform your brain surgery. Why would you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your family law case? It simply makes no sense.
Simple, right? Now that we have established that you are going to meet with an attorney who is dedicated to helping people in the exact same circumstance, we are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Find an attorney who understands you and that you connect with.
Just as important as any of these other considerations is finding an attorney who understands you and who you feel comfortable dealing with. An attorney/client relationship is just that – an interpersonal relationship. At its core are the same principles as in any relationship. You must understand each other, communicate, and get along. This does not mean that you are looking for your new best friend in your attorney. However, it does mean that the basics of any relationship must be there, or like any other relationship, it won’t work.
If you do not feel comfortable talking with an attorney, you probably will not be able to maintain a cohesive and free-flowing relationship. It would be difficult to be open if you feel like your attorney doesn’t understand you.
When choosing an attorney, follow your gut feelings. A good attorney will do his/her best to help you and tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. He/she will take the best approach to your case based on his/her experience of what works and what does not. A good attorney cares about you and your family. Your attorney wants you to be successful, happy, and to accomplish your goals. At the end of the day, your attorney wants to help you. It’s really that simple in my eyes.
Forget the magic questions you should ask a lawyer. An example is the guy who asks, “what is your win/loss record?” I get this question occasionally. Must be from people who all visited the same “Pick the right lawyer” website.
There is no scoreboard in family court. There is no such thing as a win/loss record in family court. It’s all about knowing what can be done with a case and then having the ability to take what should happen and getting it done.
No attorney gets what they seek 100% of the time. Instead of asking for a win/loss record, ask the attorney about cases similar to yours. Ask the attorney this: “In similar cases, if you thought a person would get what they were seeking, how often was the person successful?” If more often than not, the attorney is successful in achieving what is realistic, I would call that success.
Any family lawyer who tries to tell you, “I have a record of 47 wins and 2 losses in custody cases,” is just yanking your chain. Unfortunately, there is NEVER a winner in family court. When your family is divided by a divorce or a custody case, EVERYONE loses. The trick is being able to get done what can be done, considering the facts of the case.
Pete D. Louden