Finding the right family lawyer can be a difficult and time consuming process. Many clients report having tried out several different attorneys before settling on someone they felt they would trust with such intimate details of their life. Not only is lawyer shopping a waste of time and money, but it can also be emotionally exhausting to feel that no one out there is properly equipped to help you and your family resolve your legal issues.
Like all professions, there are good family lawyers and there are bad family lawyers. Luckily, there are a few guiding principles that can help you find one of the good ones straight away.
1. Choose a lawyer with a style to fit your individual needs
Some lawyers will claim to specialise in everything. They will tout their skills as a fierce and fiery litigator, while maintaining that they also have superior collaborative negotiation skills and can find a compromise for any situation. Although in a perfect world this may be possible, in reality it simply isn’t the case. Ultimately you want someone who is honest about where their true talents are and can tell whether or not they match up with your needs and the style of your case.
2. Get someone that specializes in family law
Legislation impacting the practice of family law changes a lot. It is a popular political topic that changes with the election cycle and is subject to swift and significant alterations. Legislators and various lobby groups are very interested in issues related to child support, children issues, prenuptial and cohabitation agreements and there is often pressure on the courts to change the rules. You want someone who makes it their day to day work to understand and be absolutely on top of all of these changes. Ideally, their expertise would also extend to an understanding of the specific judges operating within the family courts, their preferences and the means by which they best outcomes are achieving before them.
3. Keep in mind the notion of “winning” varies in family law
When speaking about family law, it is best to remember that it is not so much about winning as it is about achieving the optimal outcome for everyone involved. As a result of legal language and the system itself, one party often ends up feeling as though they have “lost” in a proceeding, this doesn’t have to be the case with family law. If someone feels they are being shorted or taken advantage of, it will inevitably have an impact on the children being co-parented for years to come. You want to make sure you are working with someone who understands the slightly different nature and subtler context of this field of law.
4. A referral from someone you trust is the best bet of all
Like any other professional service, going in with a recommendation from a friend or family member is the ideal scenario. Remember that the best marketers might not necessarily be the best family lawyers, and those truly investing their clients might not be most visible during a quick web search. This increased level of accountability, that comes with having a mutual friend or acquaintance, can also help provide peace of mind from the start and decrease the likelihood that you will feel someone is operating with dubious morals.
5. Compare rates while keeping a fair-minded head
When enlisting any professional service in which fees can vary significantly, it is best to do a bit of shopping around and not to be afraid to ask serious questions about the reasoning behind fees. You should be willing to pay a higher price for someone who specializes in a certain field, but if it seems extravagant, it probably is. Do your research and feel better in the long run.