Meeting with divorce attorneys can start to sound like a broken record.
They all say the same things and take you through the same stuff. They talk about your situation, then educate you on the court system, then tell you (with varying levels of specificity) what they would do if you hire them.
How can you tell which attorney will serve you well and which will not? What sets Utah divorce attorneys apart, and how do you get that information?
It’s all about Questions
The way you can tell divorce attorneys apart is by what they say, it’s by the questions you ask.
Here are 6 questions you should ask every divorce attorney you meet with. I’ll give you the question and then explain why it’s important to ask it.
Question #1: How long have you been practicing divorce law?
You want to know how much experience an attorney has practicing divorce law, as opposed to real estate, intellectual property, or something else.
Question #2: What percentage of you practice is divorce?
Another experience with divorce law question. There are more attorneys than I can count who do 5 divorces a year. Those attorneys might be good at some things, but they probably aren’t well versed in divorce law. At a minimum, you want a percentage of 50% or more. 50% is rock bottom.
(Note: you could also ask this question another way, namely: “How many divorce cases do you handle per year?” 50 would be a minimum acceptable number.)
Question #3: How many divorce trials has your firm done in the last five years?
While only about 1%-2% of divorce cases go to trial, you still need a firm with divorce trial experience. You don’t want a paper tiger, as it were. If the number is less than one per year, that’s probably a red flag.
Question #4: Has your firm published any books or articles about divorce?
This question is designed to see if the firm you’re meeting with is a thought-leader/teacher in divorce. Have they taken the time to write down their expertise for others to read? If they have, they likely have the heart of a teacher, which is good.
Question #5: What sets you apart from all the other divorce attorneys?
(Another way to ask this question is: “why should I hire you and not some other attorney?”)
Since divorce attorneys have a tendency to all sound alike, ask them to differentiate themselves. They should have a solid answer at the ready. Three differentiators are better than one, by the way. Anyone can think of one.
Question #6: What systems do you have in place to find out if you clients are happy with your service?
With this question, you’re trying to get to how well the attorney cares for his or her clients. If there are no systems in place assess client satisfaction, then there is no way to figure out what clients think and how to serve them better.
What not to Ask
I’ve given you 6 questions to ask Utah divorce attorneys when you meet with them. They’re all designed to get you the information you need to pick a quality divorce attorney.
I wanted to take a second and give you a couple questions people often ask that are totally meaningless and won’t help you pick a good attorney.
Question-not-to-Ask #1: What law school did you go to?
Totally meaningless question. Honestly, if the attorney answered Pacific or Claremont, would you have any idea of the attorney’s ability to practice law? No, it wouldn’t. If the attorney said BYU or the U, you’d judge based on whether you like a particular school generally, not on how good either law school is, because, let’s face it, you have no idea how good either law school is. (Don’t worry, I don’t have any idea either, nor do I much care.)
Question-not-to-Ask #2: Have you ever been divorced?
You might think personal experience with divorce would make an attorney more sensitive. Maybe in theory, but I’ve never noticed it makes a difference in reality. Best divorce attorneys I know have never been divorced, but they are committed to helping their clients and their clients’ children.
Question-not-to-Ask #3: Should I hire an attorney for my divorce?
If you ask a barber whether you need a haircut, the barber will tell you, “Yes.”
Same concept here. If you ask a divorce attorney whether you should hire an attorney for your divorce, the answer will always be yes. No attorney is going to tell you to go it alone when you have kids and money to deal with.