At our law firm, we practice exclusively divorce and family law. Our laser focus on clients facing family or relationship conflict or need gives us deep understanding of the personal situations they face, often quite unexpectedly.
These insights give us keen perspective on what makes a good fit between a family law client and his or her lawyer, some of which we will share here in our second post on the topic. In our first posting, we talked about the high professional bar reached by an attorney to whom The Florida Bar has granted Board Certification in Marital and Family Law like our own lawyer, Daniel Forrest.
Today, we discuss about other ways to help make a good selection of a family lawyer.
Identify potential counsel
First, you should perform some research about local lawyers to create a list of names to interview. You can get personal referrals from family and friends, and review law firm websites. Check websites for client testimonials, honors, recognition and professional ratings. Don’t forget to check professional disciplinary records from The Florida Bar.
While family law issues fall into a handful of categories, really, each family and individual situation has unique features. Talk to the attorney about his or her direct experience with the kind of legal problem you have, especially anything unique about your circumstances.
For example, most family lawyers have significant divorce experience, but have they represented clients with children with significant disabilities? Have they handled parentage, custody and visitation matters with children conceived using assisted technology? Whatever your uniqueness, ask about experience, understanding and perspective on it.
Ask about the extent of the lawyer’s local experience with the courts and other family attorneys.
Just as in other areas of life, we choose to associate with someone when something “clicks.” We go with our gut when we decide someone is a good fit with us. You will want to feel comfortable talking about very personal matters with the lawyer and not feel defensive or worry that you might be judged. Be sure you hire someone you can relate to and connect with. Remember though, you are not choosing a friend, although your relationship should be positive. Rather, you are creating a professional association.
Nuts and bolts
Ask about accessibility and communication. How easy is it to reach someone at the firm to talk to if something important comes up or if you have a question?
Finally, understand the level of legal fees and how they are assessed and billed. Will a retainer be required up front? Are there ways to keep costs down?
You can take notes at your interviews to help you remember details for when you make your final decision. We wish you the best in your decision and in the resolution of your legal issue.