How to choose a family law attorney
If you are getting a divorce or preparing for a custody hearing, an experienced family law attorney can be an invaluable asset. Family law attorneys represent purchasers in court for a spread of reasons. They also draft legal documents, such as paternity plans, prenuptial agreements, and surrogacy contracts. If you need a family law attorney, gather referrals and research potential attorneys before scheduling a consultation.
1. Ask friends or colleagues for recommendations
You should ask people you know if they need a family law attorney and whether they would recommend a family law attorney. Personal referrals are often the best way to get potential clients.
It's natural to be hesitant to ask people if they have used a family law attorney. Many people do not disclose to their colleagues that they are divorced, have fought for custody, etc. For this reason, you may want to ask only those whom you know for sure have needed a lawyer in the past.
Don't make a decision based solely on the person's recommendation. People respond to different communication styles and have different needs than their attorneys.
For example, some people don't mind hearing from their attorney infrequently while you may want to get constant updates. Accordingly, use your friends' recommendations as mere recommendations. Put recommended lawyers on the list.
2. Request a referral from another attorney
An attorney who does not practice family law is another great source of referrals. He or she should be familiar with the reputation of lawyers in the local community and can point you in the direction of an attorney sufficiently qualified to handle your case.
3. Contact your state's bar association
Many of the state's bar associations operate referral programs. You can search referral programs for attorneys based on areas of expertise and location. In states where the bar association does not operate a referral program, referral programs at the county level are often available.
You can find your state or local bar program by visiting the map created by the American Bar Association at
Look at the websites
Most lawyers now have websites. You have to find the website by doing a web search. For attorneys with common names, you should search for "name" and "lawyer" as well as the county or city in which the attorney practices.
Search the site for spelling and grammar. An attorney who doesn't care about your presentation can overlook how it represents you.
- See what the attorney's experience is. Family law is a wide field.
- An attorney who specializes in divorce cases may not know anything about creating a surrogacy contract. Accordingly, you should look at each attorney's website and see if the attorney has handled issues similar to yours.
- Also, check to see if the attorney specializes in family law.
- Some states allow attorneys to obtain a family law degree. To qualify, an attorney must have devoted a significant portion of his or her practice to family law matters. Furthermore, many states require that the attorney obtain letters of recommendation from other attorneys or judges, take advanced continuing legal education courses in the field, and pass a written exam.
Read reviews online
Websites like Avvo, Yahoo Local, and Find Law now offer free business reviews, including reviews of law firms and individual attorneys. Be aware, however, that negative reviews are likely to outnumber positive ones because upset customers are usually more motivated to leave feedback.
Furthermore, the reviews will be one-sided, unless the attorney creates an account to refute the claims made by the reviewer. If the negative review is devoid of specifics, you may not want to give it much credit.
Also check to see if the attorney has a Martindale-Hubbell rating." AV" is the highest ability/highest moral rating supported by the opinion of lawyers and judges who apprehend the attorney. Only 10% of American lawyers receive this rating. Only half of the lawyers have a rating, so ABC-rated lawyers are in the top half of their field. Furthermore, you can only get an ability rating if you get the highest moral rating (rating "V").
Find out if the attorney has been sanctioned
Each state incorporates a disciplinary commission that investigates ethics complaints against attorneys. If the complaint is merited, then the committee takes enforcement action against the attorney. Reprimands and other disciplinary actions must be listed under the attorney's name on the website of the Disciplinary Committee.
- To find your state's disciplinary commission, type "disciplinary board" and "attorney" along with your state in your favorite web browser. On the commission's website, you can usually search by attorney's name.
Narrow Your List
Once you have compiled your list of attorneys and done the initial research, you can then begin to narrow down your list. For example, you may decide that a family law specialist is essential. Therefore, those lawyers who are not specialists.
- Alternately, you might give weight to personal recommendations by friends who have just gone through a divorce. Accordingly, you may just want to talk to these attorneys.
- However, you may want to take everything into account — the attorney's website, experience, and testimonials — and make a "gut" decision based on everything you know about the attorney.
- You must use whatever process you feel comfortable with, it must be present It can be e-form based. Your next step is to reach out and talk to lawyers. A list of five or six attorneys can be non-printable.
Call and ask for a free consultation
After narrowing down your list, you should try to talk to each attorney in person. Many lawyers now offer free consultations. You need to ask if one is available.
If an attorney does not offer a free consultation, you may be able to get a consultation for a reduced fee. If not, you may want to cross this attorney off your list and move on to others. Return to this attorney if you are not satisfied with the final list of candidates.
Sometimes, if you only have a couple of questions, you can ask them over the phone instead of scheduling a consultation. Not every attorney will be willing to answer questions over the phone, but it's an option to try if time and money are an issue for you.
Write a list of questions
- You must prepare a list of questions to ask the attorney. Although a lot of counseling will be spent talking about the facts of your case, there should be time for a few questions. Take a look at the following list and choose the ones that address the areas that are most important to you:
- What expertise does one have in handling legal matters like mine?
- I did not see on your website that you are a certified specialist in family law. Does the state provide that?
- Would it be okay if I talked to an ex-client? Can you give me a referral?
- How often do you send an invoice?
- If you quit acting before the matter is resolved, what happens to the money I gave you?
- Who is responsible? You are? Fellow junior or paralegal?
- Will you be my main contact? How is that the best thanks to contacting you?
- however, can you inform Maine of developments in my case?
- How heavy is your current caseload?
- What different outcomes are possible in this case?
You should prepare for the consultation by copying the relevant documents.  For example, if you have a prenuptial agreement that you are trying to break, you should copy the prenuptial agreement for the attorney to see.
Pay attention to how employees treat you
After you make the attorney's office, you'll possibly be greeted by a secretary or secretary. During your consultation, you may communicate with other employees, such as paralegals or document clerks. Note any rude or absent-minded behavior.
Everyone associated with the attorney should treat you kindly. If not, it may reflect negatively on the attorney they work for.
Answer the questions honestly
To find a good attorney, you need an attorney who can be honest with you about your chances in your case. For this reason, you must be explicit in your answers. No matter how delicate the matter is, you need to be honest with the attorney.
Ask about fees
One important to make certain to speak about is fees. Historically, lawyers are paid an hourly rate. Hourly charges will be calculated in 10-minute or 15-minute increments. However, some family law attorneys will now perform certain tasks for a fixed fee. For example, an attorney might charge $1,000 in fixed fees for an uncontested divorce. You should ask the attorney about all the different billing arrangements offered.
You can also ask for a "limited-scope representation". Under this arrangement, the attorney agrees to perform separate tasks, such as providing advice or viewing forms. This can save you money. A limited-scale representation is not appropriate for every issue, but it may be appropriate for matters that are simple or uncontested.
Not every state allows limited-scale representation, but most states do. You should ask your attorney if this is an option and if it is appropriate for your case.
If you meet with more than one attorney, their answers may overlap with each other. You should take notes during the consultation so that you remember what was said.
Ask for a referral
You may discover during the consultation that a lawyer cannot represent you. For example, the attorney may have represented your spouse in another matter and therefore there is a potential conflict of interest. Or the attorney may realize that he or she does not have the expertise to handle your case efficiently. If this happens, ask the attorney for a referral to another attorney who may be qualified to handle the matter.
Make a decision
After meeting with the attorneys on your shortlist, you may know right away who you want to hire. Or you may have to think about it more. No matter how you feel right away, give him a couple of days to think (unless you need immediate legal help). You eventually want to hire someone you trust and feel comfortable around. To help you make an informed decision, ask yourself the following questions: How comfortable would you be working closely with this attorney?
- Does the attorney have the experience to handle the case?
- Did the lawyer explain the case clearly?
- Do the fees seem reasonable?
- What is your instinct telling you?
- Was it easy to contact the lawyer or difficult to contact?
Once you've got settled on an attorney, you must touch her or him as quickly as feasible and the kingdom which you would love to lease them. Ask the attorney if he or she needs additional information and what are the next steps.
If there's something you don't like about the attorney, see if he's willing to negotiate. For example, a lawyer may have a mail-only communication policy. However, if you want to get status updates with a phone call, you should ask if an attorney can change the policy for you.
Read the engagement letter
The attorney must provide you with a formal engagement letter. This letter explains all aspects of the attorney-client relationship. You should read it carefully before signing it and sending it back to your attorney.
Make sure that the fee agreement is included in the engagement letter and that it accurately reflects your agreement. If you agree to a flat fee but see a section discussing hourly billing, you should bring this to the attorney's attention and ask for it to be corrected.
If you do not understand something in the engagement letter, you should ask the attorney before signing.
If something is inaccurate, don't scribble on the page or cross out something. Instead, wait until a complete and accurate engagement letter has been sent to you. Then he signed and restored it.
Power of attorney payment
The attorney may ask you to pay a certain amount of money before he or she begins working on the case. This is called a "retainer". It's like the first batch. There may be a separate power of attorney fee agreement or it can be part of the engagement letter.
Your attorney should not use the power of attorney until he or she has begun working on your case. However, once they charge you for the work done, they can apply the power of attorney to your bill. You must pay any amount not covered by the power of attorney.
If for some reason the attorney stops working on your case before all of the power of attorney has been used, you are entitled to a refund.