I’ll never forget the first divorce attorney I interviewed several years ago. Walking into her office a broken woman, full of fear and anxiety and lacking any self-esteem whatsoever, I actually left there feeling worse (which I didn’t think was possible!)
She pretty much thought she was God’s gift to the world, so cocky, so full of herself, and all I kept thinking to myself was, ‘How could any judge like this woman?! If I hire her, I might as well throw in the towel right now!’
That is rule number one of my five rules in choosing a divorce attorney.
1. Ask yourself, “Would a judge like this attorney?” After all, he or she could be standing in front of him or her arguing your case. Same thing goes for the opposing attorney. If your attorney is likable, his or her relationship with your soon-to-be ex’s attorney will just be better, and that makes things a lot easier. Trust me on this one!
2. Ask lots of questions during the consultation. This is your chance to interview your attorney, and the consultation is usually free or you are being charged a set price. Ask everything! Good questions include, how do you feel about mediation? How many cases have you had that have gone to trial and what were the outcomes? Why did you become a divorce attorney? How many years have you been practicing family law? Do you practice other kinds of law or just divorce? How much is this going to cost? (no attorney can really answer this question but I think it’s good to hear what they say.)
3. Get references from people you trust. The best way to find an attorney is to ask people you know. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, ask someone who you respect, and who you know has good judgment. It’s really nice when you can know firsthand that your attorney has a proven track record of pleasing a client.
4. Google the person. You never know what you can find online. There could be good stuff and bad stuff written about your potential attorney. Also, check out his or her or the firm’s website. Are they are as professional as you’d like, based on the site? Is the site so extravagant that you feel they are going to overcharge you to pay their web designer? The more you can find (or not find) online about your attorney the better.
5. Trust your Gut. Meeting the perfect attorney is like finding the right house or the right car, or even the right guy. There’s something about him or her that just feels right. It feels comfortable. It’s just telling you to hire him or her. The gut can also tell you to run away, just as I did when I met that attorney I talked about at the beginning of this blog. You’ll know. And if you don’t know, just like when it comes to dating, you should keep looking!
One more thing. It’s important to remember that your attorney is not your therapist. If you call him or her and cry and tell them the details of everything your ex is doing, it’s just going to rack up your bill. Get a therapist and vent, vent, vent! Limit your stories to your attorney to things he or she really needs to know.