Fortunately, almost all Collaborative lawyers are really good at what we do. In addition, we can work with mental health professionals and financial professionals to provide better representation for all.
While it would be hard to tell which Collaborative attorney would be the best, it really isn't very important. There are many very good Collaborative attorneys. Just like in litigation, there's no overall objective ranking service to indicate who's the best.
There are several things you can check on to find a Collaborative attorney who would work well with you.
Experience. Ask about their experience. Attorneys can tell you about the number of cases they have handled and they can tell you whether they have worked cases with issues similar to yours.
Training. Find out how much training the attorney has had, and whether they have recently had training. Collaborative Law is such a new process that attorneys need a lot of training and need to refresh their Collaborative training at least once a year.
Practice Group Referral. Many Collaborative attorneys are in a “practice group”. It is a group of independent professionals from different firms who frequently work together effectively. My practice group, Collaborative Divorce Tarrant County, has attorneys from all over Tarrant County and Parker County and we each represent clients from all over the area.
Ever Trained Others? Another indicator to check on is whether the attorney has trained other attorneys in Collaborative Law or spoken to different groups about it.
Ability to Explain. Ask the attorney to explain how the Collaborative process works. The attorney should be able to clearly explain the process and discuss how your issues could be resolved with the process.
Communication. Make sure the attorney's communication style is comfortable for you. Everyone has their own communication needs and style. Divorce is a stressful enough time just by itself. Be sure that you feel good and feel listened to when you talk with your attorney.
Recommendations from friends, attorneys and other professionals can be helpful as a starting point — just be careful to consider the comments above and evaluate each attorney.
Warning: If you meet with an attorney who advertises being a Collaborative attorney and then tries to talk you out of using Collaborative Law, go for a second opinion somewhere else. You can ask such an attorney how many cases he/she has handled. If it's just one or two or none, you have probably run into a “bait and switch” attorney. Those attorneys try to attract clients by mentioning Collaborative Law, but then talk the clients out of it every time because they don't use the process. Go to a real Collaborative attorney for a second opinion.
The bottom line: There is no need to find the single best Collaborative attorney, which is lucky because there's no way to determine who is the best. But there are number of things that parties can check out about prospective attorneys when deciding who to hire. In the end, chemistry may be the most important ingredient in choosing the right Collaborative attorney for you. Pay attention to your gut feeling and how well the attorney communicates with you. You can also take advantage of the other professionals involved in your case. They all want you to be successful.
Please call us to schedule a consultation.