Your divorce lawyer is the most important person in your life when you are going through a divorce. Because of this, it is crucial that you select an attorney who is not only experienced and knowledgeable, but is someone you trust, feel confident in, and can work with.
Why Finding the Right Lawyer Matters
Every attorney must go to law school or receive training, and every attorney must pass the bar exam. Beyond that, no two attorneys are the same. Your case is unique, and if it is complex, it may require special knowledge, skills, and experience that most attorneys will not have.
If you do not choose an attorney with specialized knowledge and experience, your case could take much longer, and crucial errors could be made, impacting your entire financial future. It is essential that you locate an attorney who understands your position, knows how to protect you, and has the staff and procedures in place to handle your case with excellence, speed, and proven wisdom.
How to Find a Lawyer
There are a lot of ways to get the names of potential attorneys. Friends and family may have recommendations. Your local bar association may have a referral program. Other attorneys and professionals that work for you may have suggestions about who to speak with.
When seeking an attorney for a high net worth divorce, however, you should narrow the field down to attorneys who are experienced in this very specialized area of practice. To do so, it is important to talk with your accountant, financial planner, and business managers to get their advice and suggestions. Talk with other friends or business acquaintances to find out who they worked with. Evaluate the websites of attorneys who have been recommended to you.
Meet with Potential Attorneys
Once you have a few names, make appointments to meet with them. The attorney should be able to give you some general thoughts about how your type of case would be handled, how long it would take, how much it would cost, and what your possible outcomes would be. Keep in mind that you are not determining if the attorney is someone you want to be friends with. Instead, you are looking for someone with the skills, attitude, knowledge, experience, and approach that will get you what you want in your divorce. They should, however, be someone you can communicate easily with and whom you feel you can absolutely trust.
Key Factors in Choosing an Attorney
The number one factor in selecting an attorney to represent you is their experience handling high conflict or complex divorces. Ideally, you want an attorney who focuses their practice on this type of divorce and has worked with many clients in similar situations.
The other important factor is the attorney’s approach. If you want an attorney who will do everything possible to settle your case, find someone who is passionate about getting to a settlement. If you want an attorney who is very skilled in trying divorce cases, look for someone who focuses their energy on preparing for and winning at trial.
Questions to Ask Potential Divorce Lawyers
When you meet with the attorney, it is important to spend some time talking with them and getting to know them. You want someone you feel comfortable with and someone you can rely on without reservations. There is also a lot of information you will want to gather that will aid you in deciding whom you want to retain.
These are some questions you can ask that will help you get the details you need and help you make your decision:
- Who will be working on the case? Will there be associates, paralegals, legal secretaries involved? Who will be the main point of contact? Who will make the overall strategic decisions?
- How frequently does the attorney handle high net worth divorce cases? How many cases have they handled in the last six months?
- How long has the attorney been with this firm?
- Does the firm primarily handle complex divorce cases?
- Will you be able to speak directly with the attorney when you need to?
- Is there a written retainer? Can you review it in advance?
- What is their hourly rate, and does it vary for travel time, preparation, in court time, or for work performed by associates or paralegals?
- What is their estimate for the complete cost of the divorce?
- Do they recommend retaining experts and professionals to assist in the case? What is the estimated cost of those services? How can those professionals enhance your case?
- Do they recommend a settlement or going straight to trial? Do they suggest arbitration with a private judge? Why or why not?
- How quickly do they return calls or emails?
- Who handles calls and emails if that attorney is out of the office?
- What kind of outcome do they predict for this case at trial?
- How long do they anticipate the case will take?
- What do they see as the most difficult and complicated issue in the case? What kind of resolution do they see for that issue?
- What is their overall strategy for your case?
- What do they recommend you do now to get the best possible outcome in your case?
- How quickly can they begin work on your case?
Evaluate the Attorneys You Met
After meeting with at least three potential attorneys, take some time to reflect on the meetings, the information you obtained, and your gut reaction to them. Consider:
- Which attorney has the most experience
- Which one made you feel comfortable
- Which one was the most aggressive
- Which one was the most optimistic about your case
- Which one understood your concerns best
Weigh all of these factors and choose the person you think is best suited to handle your case, can get the best outcome, and work with you the best.
The selection of your divorce attorney may be the most important decision you ever make. It pays to take the time to do your research and meet with and evaluate the best possible people in your area.