The following questionnaire can help you find and hire an experienced lawyer who can be the right fit for your case:
- Are you able to get along with the divorce attorney?
- Does the lawyer focus exclusively on divorce cases, and how busy is he/she?
- What is the lawyer’s reputation with the court and his/her clients?
- Does the lawyer believe in collaborative divorce resolution?
- Does the lawyer communicate systemically and promptly?
- Who will handle your case?
- Does the lawyer know your spouse?
- Have you browsed the lawyer’s website and appraised the testimonials?
- How does the lawyer charge fees?
After checking with your family and friends, and after searching online, you can shortlist a few divorce lawyers who look suitable. And then go about finding the most appropriate one for your case by using the following questionnaire:
Are You Able to Get Along with the Divorce Attorney?
You may be the friendliest person in the world and your lawyer may be the Einstein of divorce law, but if you both do not vibe with each other or develop a rapport, or cannot stand together in a room, you will not receive your ideal results. Find someone you are comfortable working with.
Does the Lawyer Specialize in Divorce Cases, and How Busy is He?
You need to work with a firm that is laser-focused 24/7 on divorce cases. Working with a general practice firm can compromise your case because such firms handle all kinds of cases without specializing in any.
When you discover an experienced lawyer who seems just right for you, find out how busy he/she is. If he/she is too busy with too many cases, he/she may not be generous with time – in that case, he/she should have an experienced team and assign to you a lawyer who has the time for you. On the other hand, if the lawyer handles very few divorce cases in a year, there might be a reason for that – it could imply that there’s a lack of competence. Therefore, you need to strike the right balance and how you do that depends on you alone.
What is the Lawyer’s Reputation with the Court and with his Clients?
The lawyer should have an excellent reputation with his colleagues, clients, and the courts. If he is disliked, negotiations can become tougher, and that could compromise your case. The lawyer should not have any violations listed against him on the state’s bar association’s website.
Does the Lawyer Believe in Collaborative Divorce Resolution?
Collaborative divorcee refers to the process of resolving divorce disputes amicably, without litigation. The idea is to use mediation and negotiation as tools to resolve the divorce so that time and money can be saved, information can be exchanged in a transparent and informal environment, and an agreement can be made on how to handle post-separation issues so that the divorce can be resolved to both the parties’ satisfaction.
Therefore, you should check if the lawyer is more interested in a legal fight or a peaceful approach. We believe that a calm and amicable divorce resolution process through negotiation and mediation works best for the vast majority of clients.
Does the Lawyer Communicate Systemically and Promptly?
Being accessible and easily available on the phone, messenger, or email, communicating systemically, keeping you informed of what is happening (as it happens), asking your opinion on new strategies, being upfront about fees, and in general, being transparent and accessible are characteristics that all quality family law firms are known for.
Is the lawyer you are interviewing a systematic and transparent communicator? Dig in and get an answer.
Who will Handle your Case?
You interview an attorney because you are interested in hiring him. Therefore, you should consider asking him whether he/she or one of his team members will be handling your case. If he plans to assign the case to a team member, make sure you trust the lawyer you’re talking with and you trust that his/her team of lawyers will serve you well.
Does the Lawyer Know your Spouse?
If the lawyer knows your spouse, personal feelings can get in the way and influence his approach. We recommend not working with a lawyer who is connected to your spouse.
Have you Browsed the Lawyer’s Website and Appraised the Testimonials?
Typically, a quality law firm publishes a helpful family law blog that educates readers and turns them into informed litigants.
Your to-be lawyer’s website should publish helpful and prompt customer support – phone, messenger, online chat, or email. Their communication should be efficient and helpful to prospective clients.
Online testimonials can be a gray area. Remember that all humans are different and it is not possible to please everyone – therefore, if all testimonials are glowing and positive, you should consider taking them with a pinch of salt. Typically, reviews by people who have posted their names can be considered trustworthy. That said, online testimonials are just another checkbox in the lawyer selection process.
Finally, please consider not relying solely on search engine results. For example, some Utahns search for “best Utah divorce attorney” or “best Utah Utah family law attorney,” and shortlist the first 3 or 4 names that show up on the search engine. Such people should analyze the lawyer’s practice some more before hiring him. Google can’t do that for you.
How does the Lawyer Charge Fees?
Divorce lawyers charge fees based on:
- Billable Hours (Line-Item Billing)
- Flat Fees
In the billable hour form of billing, the lawyer charges you for the time he spent on your case. He/she lists the tasks performed in your case and charges you per task. That way, you get to know what task is completed and how long it took.
In the flat fees form of billing, the lawyer charges a flat fee for services. Flat fees can help clients control the cost of the case, and they are paid upfront.
The questionnaire above is likely to help you cut down on your shortlist and hopefully select the right lawyer.