You are going through what is likely to be one of the most traumatic experiences in your life. The person you choose as your lawyer to help you through a separation can be a very important decision. How that person goes about the practice of law can help you to achieve an early or relatively inexpensive agreement with your spouse or can send you on a path which you may find difficult to get off.
I could write for pages about what I think are important attributes in a lawyer. I have narrowed them down to four considerations:
- Ask Around
There is no better way of cutting through positive advertising than asking others about their own experiences. With divorce rates as high as they are, it is not difficult to find others with probably more experience than they would like to have. Ask what they liked and what they didn’t like, to work out what might be important for you in the lawyer you select. Beware of firms who advertise that they win everything or never lose. That will not be true.
- Consider the Lawyer’s Level of Experience
Look for a lawyer who has particular expertise in family law. His or her fees may be a little higher but if they specialise, you can expect they he or she will be efficient. You can specifically look for a lawyer who is an accredited family law specialist and take confidence that he or she knows their way around the Family Law Act.
Think about how experienced you want your lawyer to be. It may be tempting to choose a less experienced lawyer because their costs are less and there are no doubt some fantastic newly admitted lawyers in practice. It may be better, though, for such important matters as your children and your life’s savings, to err on the side of caution and opt for more experience rather than less.
If you want to find out about a lawyer and their website does not give the information you want, call the Queensland Law Society and ask those questions.
- Meet the Lawyer
Make sure you meet, or at least talk, to the lawyer you are thinking of retaining before you make a decision. You need to see if the lawyer is someone you feel comfortable with and “click” with. If, after the initial talk or meeting you do not feel comfortable with the lawyer, talk to at least one other, so that you can compare the different personalities and make a more informed decision. Remember that at any time if you begin to feel that you are not being looked after, you can take your file to another lawyer.
- Research the Firm’s Website
Websites are certainly important marketing tools for firms. They can convey the firm’s ethos and values. You can look at all of the lawyers and see if the message the website gives is that there will be a team of people behind you, rather than a singular lawyer. Look at the focus of the website – is it “the fight” or is the focus on other options to resolve disputes? If “the fight” is what you are looking for, your choice may be the firm which advertises that as its strength. If you are hoping to avoid the cost, delay and risk associated with “the fight”, you might need to look at other firms.