What are the factors I should consider when hiring a divorce attorney?
If you have decided to hire an attorney to represent you through the divorce process, you should make sure that you select the right attorney for your specific needs and that you understand how to work with your attorney. Attorney selection can be a huge part of whether your case is “successful” or not, and this is one of the times where it is necessary for you to do your homework.
There are many ways to find a lawyer or be referred to one. Maybe you have found an attorney through advertising or the Internet, or you received a referral from a professional contact like your accountant, doctor, therapist, financial planner or another attorney. You may receive a referral to an attorney through a friend or an acquaintance or through a state or local lawyer referral source. No matter how you heard about him or her, keep in mind that every attorney is different and you may not have a good fit with the divorce lawyer your friend or colleague had success with in their divorce, or with an attorney to whom you were referred.
Before you meet an attorney for an initial client consultation, do some research and investigation regarding the attorney’s background, education, reputation and skill. Here are some ways to do that:
- Visit The Florida Bar website to find out more information about the attorney or attorneys you are considering. Florida Bar member records tell you how long they have been practicing law in Florida, what geographical area of the state in which they are located, what board certifications they hold and whether they have any disciplinary history.
- Go to the attorney’s website and find if their practice is limited to marital and family law or if they dabble in it and also practice in other areas. Family law is complex, and for the same reason why you would not seek a general practitioner to do reconstructive surgery, you should not hire a commercial litigator to handle your divorce.
- Evaluate the attorney’s ratings. Martindale-Hubbell, for example, is the oldest rating service and provides extensive information on the meanings of their ratings and the process used to award them. Attorneys eligible for rating are anonymously rated by judges and other lawyers who know or who have worked with the rated attorney and are able to evaluate the attorney’s ethics and legal ability in a specific practice area.
When selecting an attorney, it is important to hire someone that has the particular experience and training necessary to meet your needs. Family law is a very specialized form of law and you will likely want to select an attorney whose practice is focused primarily on family law, and who has preferably handled cases similar to yours—especially if your divorce has complex issues. If you have not resolved all of your questions through your own investigation prior to your first meeting with the attorney, when you meet with an attorney for the first time, be prepared with questions so that you can evaluate their background and experience.
While background, reputation, education and skill are several components of the equation when selecting an attorney, personality fit is another. It is important to feel that your attorney understands you, and it is also important to understand your attorney and feel comfortable with his or her advice. A divorce can be a highly emotional process and you will want to hire an attorney who can effectively help you through it. You may need to find someone who can calmly talk you through your issues without getting highly emotional or escalating the situation themselves. Strive to find an attorney who you believe empathizes and sympathizes with you, but one who also provides you sound, logical and accurate legal advice.
At Nicole L. Goetz, P.L. our attorneys focus exclusively on marital and family law. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the divorce process from start to finish, including litigation and appeals, if necessary. If you have questions, would like to receive more information, or need an attorney to assist you during this difficult and often complicated process, please call our office in Naples, Florida at 239-325-5030 to schedule a confidential consultation with our attorneys.
The information provided on law and legal topics is designed for general information only and does not constitute nor should it be considered legal advice. It is not a substitute, nor should it be considered a substitute, for legal advice from a qualified attorney who is knowledgeable about your specific factual situation.