• Archana Srivastava, Esq.

5 Things to consider when hiring a family law attorney

1. Experience/specialty in family law – Look for an attorney that has been practicing law, specifically family law, for some time. It does not necessarily have to be decades, but the attorney should know the law or at least know how to find out answers to your specific situation or questions. Experience does not have to be the number of years the attorney has been practicing family law - it can also be the amount of time an attorney dedicates his/her practice to family law. For example, you are probably in better hands with an attorney who has been practicing only a few years but almost exclusively in family law versus an attorney that has been practicing law for decades but does not deal with family law on a regular basis. Also, it is important to keep in mind that every family law case is different, so no one attorney knows everything and has all the answers.

2. Ability to respond in a timely manner – It is important that when choosing an attorney, you understand what the attorney’s policy is on responding to phone calls and/or e-mails. Some attorneys check their e-mail and phone messages even on weekends while others will only do it during normal work hours. It is important to also keep in mind that your attorney has several cases which demand attention, so give your attorney a day or two to get back to you, unless of course, it is absolutely urgent.

3. Attorney’s style – Every person has a different communicating style and attorneys are no exception. Simply put, some attorneys love the “fight” and want to go to court for everything while other attorneys try to avoid court at all cost. A good and effective attorney will advise you on when to fight it out in court and when to settle the matter out of court. So, it does not have to be one or the other.

4. Fee structure – Prospective clients usually ask about the attorney’s billable rate. Although this is important to know, also remember to ask for what you will be billed. For example, if the associate attorney copies the partner or paralegal on an email string, will you be charged for all three people on the email? Also remember that “billable hour” means anything that the attorney does relating to your case – from a phone call to an e-mail to mailing out a letter.

5. Being comfortable with the attorney – Divorce can be very emotional and also very personal. After all, you are sharing your financial information as well as intimate details about your marital relationship with your attorney. So, find an attorney that you can feel comfortable with. Attorneys are called “counselors” for a reason so find one that you can confide in.