A lot of it is personal preference. You should work with someone you can talk to and whose recommendations you will follow. There are many different types of family law attorneys, and a lot of attorneys do family law cases; if they’re licensed, there is a presumption that they’re qualified to work on the case. Some attorneys may have more experience in family law than others, but still, the law is the law, and some clients feel more comfortable with certain people for whatever reason.
The cost is something to consider, as well. There are some services that provide cost relief since only a fraction of people looking for a real family law attorney can actually afford one. Attorneys will offer incentives and reduce their prices. But you’re still looking at a substantial amount of money for any family law case due to the regular market rate per hour for that attorney. The reality is it’ll be a lot of money for the divorce and then more money for modifications, etc. People trying to handle their own cases is a symptom of the expense; I’m sure most would want to work with a good attorney if they could.
I offer some competitive reduced rates to clients to get them to point B with some assistance, but it’s not ideal in terms of the full representation that other more expensive attorneys from a firm would provide. I’m a solo attorney. A solo attorney is a great resource for clients who need certain questions answered and need assistance with some services but who don’t want to pay the expense or can’t afford the fees that bigger firms would charge. I handle full cases as well.
As a general rule, it’s hard to label someone a good versus bad attorney. Lawyers come in all shapes and sizes. Some attorneys are a gift to one client and terrible for another. Overall, an attorney should be available to listen. It’s especially important for a family law attorney to be able to understand the client’s issues and advise them.
In some cases, there is such an issue that no amount of money spent on your attorney will get you what you want. That might happen when one parent has a pretty substantial downside and is attempting to acquire custody from a parent who doesn’t have any downside. While you shouldn’t consider those defeatist issues, you would want an attorney who will tell you what they believe, in all reality, is going to happen.
The more difficult issues and impossible requests are the ones that lead people to cast blame on the attorney or the judge or the process, and in those circumstances, it’s not fair to judge an attorney for the outcome. You have to separate the difficult issues from the more reasonable requests. Even with some reasonable requests, you’re still dealing with intricate attorney services that will have to be provided. The client who’s looking for an attorney has to determine, first and foremost, whether they’re making a reasonable request; then they need to determine what their price level is in terms of how much they’re going to spend because these cases can be very expensive. Once they’re ready to look for an attorney, that should consider the attorney’s background and experience level, in addition to how comfortable they feel talking to that attorney and what they would or would not want to share with them (what’s off limits).
If they can find someone who can work with them under those terms, I think that they would be successful in getting to point B. (Point A is hiring the attorney and getting the case up and running, and point B is getting an understandable outcome based on all of the issues.) Point B can come about in different ways. Some attorneys are aggressive and create a big storm by kicking up some dust and causing lots of people to react, to varying degrees of success. That’s what some clients want. The attorney’s style is another piece of the analysis when looking for an attorney.
Finally, if a person has a serious problem that needs to be rectified or remedied, then they need someone who is available, based on their schedule, to act ASAP. Some attorneys are so booked that they’ll be passing the case off to other people or they’ll be pre-occupied, meaning the level of emergency would be shuffled about a little bit. So, the attorney’s availability should be a big piece in any evaluation. Overall, considering the cost, your level of comfort with the attorney, their experience level, and their availability makes a good start in finding an attorney to help you.
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