I can’t wait to find a divorce lawyer! (said no one ever).
You got this. I’m here to tell you there are plenty of wonderful divorce lawyers out there: experts who know the law, care about their clients and do everything they can to get a great result. The key is knowing how to find them. Because having the right person on your team can make all the difference.
At Divorce in Good Company, we’re here to give you great advice, inspiration, community, and a few good belly laughs. But as much as we cherish you, and though I am a divorce lawyer, we’re not here to give you legal advice specific to your case. For that, you need your own legal eagle.
So how do you do that? If, like many women, this is your first soiree with the law, you may not even know how to go about finding a lawyer, let alone hiring one.
Here are 5 great places to start:
1. Seek referrals from more than one source.
The best people to ask for referrals for divorce lawyers are other lawyers, folks in the financial world (CPAs, financial advisors), and other ladies who’ve been through divorce. Ask more than one person to get more than one name. If the same person keeps coming up, that’s a good sign. Another great idea most people don’t think of – don’t just ask these people for recommendations, ask who NOT to use.
2. Consult more than one lawyer.
This can be a bit costly if the lawyers charge a consultation fee (many but not all do), but it’s worth consulting with at least two lawyers. Get a feel for each one’s style, approach, and strategy. Check out their office space and how helpful their receptionist is. The differences will be obvious.
3. Interview, don’t just be interviewed.
I’m amazed whenever I get an email from a stranger with this subject line “I WANT TO HIRE YOU!” It's flattering, but this person doesn’t know me - they only know what they’ve heard about me. You may be surprised to learn that top-notch lawyers don’t take every case that comes their way – they interview potential clients and decide if they should take the case. Some even use a rating scale of A-F! Remember, you’re a top-notch client, and you need to do the same thing! One of the best ways to do that is to take a list of questions with you – like how much experience they have, how they would handle your particular situation, and will they be involved in the day-to-day of your case - or pass you on to a more junior attorney?
4. Do a gut check.
A lawyer-client relationship is just that, a relationship. And it needs to feel like a good one to you. You’re probably going to be spending a good amount of time with this person, so make sure you’re OK doing that. Most importantly, you need to trust her to guide you in all the important decisions you need to make. If something doesn’t feel right in your gut – even if you can’t articulate exactly what that is - move on.
5. Hire a lawyer you can afford to keep until the end.
Divorces are costly and divorce lawyers are, too. But just how much they cost depends on where you live, how experienced the lawyer is, and sometimes how fancy his office is. You need to know you can afford the lawyer you’re hiring, not just to get you started but to see you cross the finish line. If you’re just scraping together enough funds to pay her initial retainer, chances are you won’t be able to afford the monthly bills that come after your initial retainer runs out.
I know this is a tough time, but you can do this! The right lawyer will ease many of your legal worries and help guide you toward the best outcome possible.