Comprehensive List of Questions When Vetting a Divorce AttorneyJan 13, 2021
January is known as “Divorce Month.” It’s no wonder that this is the time many couples want to take a step towards divorce. The stress of the holiday season is over and you’re faced with a new year. If you’re in this situation, and actively seeking an attorney for representation, I have a comprehensive guide to help you get started.
As you prepare for divorce, selecting an attorney who is right for you is of critical importance. If you haven’t been through a divorce, been in court, or worked with an attorney before, the experience can feel new and uncomfortable. It is wise to seek representation regardless of which side you are on. How your divorce is handled can have a lasting impact on your life.
You’ll want to interview a minimum of three attorneys before making a decision. Research the attorney, the firm, fees, working styles, and how you pay. Do social media review searches, too. If your family has a business, or there are children with special needs, or other specific circumstances, be sure the firm you select is familiar with these types of situations.
Once you have completed your research, including interviews, select the attorney that is right for you. The attorney will draw up a contract which will include a retainer payment to begin working together. Pay the retainer after both parties have signed the contract.
How long have your practiced, and how many cases have you handled?
Do you have a philosophy about divorce that underscores your practice?
How many cases do you settle out of court? (Note: Majority of cases settle without litigation.)
What process do you work in (mediation, collaborative, litigation?) Which do you prefer and why?
How would another lawyer describe your style and approach to getting to a settlement?
How would your clients describe your style and approach to getting to settlement?
Do you know my spouse or their attorney?
What is your familiarity with local family court officials?
How will we work together? Phone, in person, video conferences?
What is your typical response time for phone calls and email?
Will I have your cell phone number?
If I need to reach you, what is the best time of day?
Will I actually be working with you, or with an associate?
Who will respond to my emails?
What is your preferred method of communicating questions?
How would I get a question answered without an appointment with you?
Are there others in the firm who would be familiar with my case and could answer questions when you are not available?
How can I best prepare for meetings that will be most cost effective for me?
What is your role in effectuating the settlement?
Before charting a particular course, do you perform a corresponding evaluation of "the other side"?
Will I receive copies of documents filed with the court, all communication with my spouse’s attorney and any other documents related to my case?
Will I be kept informed of all developments in my case?
Will you ask my opinion before planning a strategy?
FEES FOR SERVICES
Will you do either/or unbundled legal services versus retainer only?
How much is your retainer?
When will I receive updates on hours tracked against my retainer?
What is your hourly rate?
What is the hourly rate of associates that may work on my case?
What are all of the transactions for which I will be billed? (Copies, filings)
Will I be billed for emails?
How do you handle payment? Credit cards, checks, etc?
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