One of the most common questions I am asked by potential clients, friends, and people I encounter is "how do I find a quality family attorney?" Attorneys have an unfortunate, and sometimes deservedly so, reputation for taking large amounts of a client's money but the case does not move forward, that the attorney cannot be personally reached, and/or that the attorney does not seem to know the intimate details of the client's case.
There are certain, while not entirely definitive or exclusive, actions that someone with a family law problem can take to hopefully narrow the field down to an attorney that fits their needs and will provide them the legal experience that they are looking for.
First, I believe an attorney should be open and honest about the process and the costs associated with a potential client's case. While no attorney, no matter how experienced, can predict with certainty how a case will progress, how much a case will eventually cost, or all of the potential necessities that might arise during a case, attorneys have unique training and experience in predicting and foresight into what problems are likely to arise and the costs associate with those issues. Furthermore, lack-of-knowledge of the process and procedures of family law courts can often be as stressful for a client as the details of the case. During the initial consultation, a brief overview with the client on what to expect can provide enormous relief. Additionally, the attorney should provide a wide array of solutions because every case has numerous possible outcomes; there is no "single solution" to any case.
Second, how well a potential litigant/client can communicate with their attorney is of the utmost importance. While in the consultation, the ability of the attorney and potential client to be able to communicate with one another is the crux of the attorney-client relationship; trust between the attorney and client is the very foundation of the relationship and trust is founded on efficient and effective communication.
Last, the availability of the attorney and his/her staff can often be very important. Each attorney has their own resources, capabilities, and support staff, and having knowledge of this might assist in determining if that particular attorney is the best choice. One of the largest complaints with the legal profession, in my opinion, is that the attorney will take the retainer money but may not be available when the client calls; rarely is the attorney taking the money wrongfully, but the attorney may have too many cases.
Asking questions to an attorney during a consultation can help provide potential clients and individuals looking for family law representation valuable insight into how the representation and interaction will proceed in the future. Hiring the first attorney you speak to simply because you have a pressing issue may not always be in your best interest. Most attorneys in today's market provide free, no obligation consultations to review your case with you and hopefully give you some guidance on how they are able to help you.
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