Three Basic Questions to Ask an Attorney at Your Initial Meeting
Most family law attorneys offer a free initial consultation. The free initial consultation is not just an opportunity for you to better understand the process of divorce, but it is ultimately the best opportunity you have to find an attorney who will be a good fit for you and your situation. There are so many family law attorneys that you can find the one who understands you and communicates with you effectively if you take the time to meet with and interview attorneys.
- What is your experience: in this county? Representing people like me? While an attorney can be successful in any county, having some experience with particular judges gives an attorney a better sense of strategy and be helpful in preparing a client for his/her experience. It can also be helpful if your attorney has represented other clients who faced a situation similar to yours. Asking an attorney how many cases s/he has won is a question no attorney can answer well. “Winning” is not an easy thing to define in a divorce and very few clients would say they felt like they “won” anything in the end. Asking an attorney to give you a sense of the initial strengths of your case may be more beneficial.
- How often can I expect to communicate with you and how do you prefer to communicate? Some attorneys are busier than others and some rely on assistants to communicate with their clients. If you prefer to talk to the attorney and the legal assistant, you should ask your attorney at your initial meeting (before hiring an attorney) how often your attorney is typically available to talk to you. Many attorneys, like the rest of the world, now rely on email to communicate with clients quickly. Email may be better for clients who are working and don’t want to talk in public about their divorce, but some clients prefer to talk to an attorney “live” rather than communicate via email. Find an attorney who communicates the way you prefer.
- What is your hourly rate and what is the retainer fee? These are important questions for every client to ask. While choosing the cheapest attorney may not be in your best interests, choosing the most expensive attorney may not be wise either. If your case goes on longer you’re your planned (because spouses and judges do not always act the way we expect them to act), you want to be able to manage your legal fees.
Ask your attorney for specifics about billing. Attorneys bill for miscellaneous items differently. Some attorneys will bill for every email and phone call, no matter how short, and some will only bill for emails or phone calls that take a few minutes or more to answer. Attorneys bill differently for copying and scanning documents. Some attorneys accept credit cards.
Finding an attorney who listens to you and who you believe has your best interests at heart is the best attorney for your case, but be practical in your selection too.