In our previous post, we addressed the importance of the following as part of the initial process of selecting an attorney:
- Getting a referral from people you trust
- Seeking out helpful resources
- Looking at reviews carefully
- Reviewing law firm websites
- Researching the specific attorney you want to hire
- Developing a list of questions
In this post, we address important considerations in actually selecting an attorney.
Personally interview at least 2-3 attorneys. Attorneys are not one-size-fits-all. By interviewing two or three attorneys, you will get a sense of their approach and whether it matched your objectives. You may get a sense of how their staff will interact with you as well. Does the staff person sound warm and welcoming? Does he or she take the time to listen to you?
Recognize that some attorneys charge for the initial consultation, often at a reduced fee level while others offer free consultations. This should not be a factor in deciding who will represent you in a matter in which your future is at stake.
Select an attorney you feel comfortable with. You will be working with your attorney for a minimum of three months and possibly much longer. Be sure that they attorney's level of communication, personality style and approach to your case all work for your comfort level. Choose an attorney with whom you will be able to be open and honest. Family law matters are extremely personal and you want an attorney that understands what is important to you.
Choose an attorney whose opinion you can trust. You also want an attorney whose opinion you can respect, even if the opinion differs from what you believe you want. That is, if you cannot listen to your attorney's ideas and feel a sense of understanding, this is probably not the best match for you.
Find an attorney who can address your unique needs. You may wish to learn whether the attorney you are interviewing is willing to conduct the case in a manner that helps focus on minimizing conflict and protecting your children as well as protecting your interests. If your case has a unique history such as domestic violence or mental health issues, ask questions about the attorney's experience in handling cases with these issues.
Be wary of the attorney who makes bold promises. Be cautious about attorneys that over promise what he or she can get for you. This is a hard-sell approach and should raise caution flags for you. Most people want an attorney who can see the many sides of an issue, clearly explain the law and master the facts of your unique case. If you get a hard sell from a prospective attorney, consider whether the attorney may not have enough work and will overwork your case. On the other hand, if you sense a lack of interest in you or your case during the initial consultation, this is unlikely to change.
Remember that there are many capable family law attorneys. With a little diligence and persistence you will find the right match for you. There may be other considerations that you want to include in your attorney search, such as location and cost. However, be sure to select an experienced and reputable law firm that will handle your case with the care it deserves.
For additional information on how to work with an attorney or whether you need an attorney, the Colorado Bar Association provides a helpful publication that outlines additional considerations.