Once you have made the decision to hire an attorney, you need to look around to find out who is available. There are many attorneys and there are many different personalities and approaches to handling a family law case. How do you decide who to hire? Here's how you move forward in your quest.
Where to find attorneys.
- Get references or referrals from friends, relatives, other lawyers or any other professionals you know. It helps to get some information from someone who knows or knows of the attorney, but even a glowing report doesn't mean a good fit for you. Ask for some recommendations from someone who knows one or more family lawyers, and then investigate.
- Check on line. There's lots of information you can find by doing searches on line. If you don't know how to do it, get someone to help you. You can get lists of attorneys, reviews of attorneys, web sites and writing (such as blogs) to help inform you about the attorneys. Read what you can about each attorney to get a feel for their approach.
What to look for in attorneys.
- Experience. The more complicated the case, the greater the value of experience. You can decide how much experience is needed for your case.
- Expertise. Some attorneys are Board Certified Specialists. That means that they have met rigorous standards of the State Bar. The requirements include a significant caseload of family law cases, involving a wide variety of issues and extensive involvement with various courts. It also requires much more continuing legal education than most attorneys get and it includes a requirement of passing an extremely difficult test. After becoming Board Certified Specialists, the attorneys must maintain a significant practice in the area and continue the education requirements.
- Meeting and exceeding the continuing education requirement of the State Bar. The law changes and attorneys need to keep up with the changes and find ways to practice more effectively. Generally, attorneys who attend a lot of continuing legal education will be up-to-date and will have new and creative ways to help their clients.
- Convenient location. Location may or may not matter to you. For some people, they want a lawyer close to home. For others, the location doesn't matter. You can decide how important it is for you.
- Compatible personality. This may be the most important difference-maker for many people. There are many highly-qualified, experienced and well-trained attorneys around. Choosing between them may come down to a matter of personality. Talk with more than one and decide who you feel more comfortable with.
With all of the above in mind, hopefully you can find an attorney who fits your needs. If not, keep looking!